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(A brief historical survey of our holy Imams)

By: Al - Wa'ez Hasan Alijah

Husayn Nazar Ali


Firman Mubarak

Message from The Chairman



Chapter I - Arabia and imamat 1

Chapter II - Syria and imamat 14

Chapter III - N.W. Africa and imamat 21

Chapter IV - Egypt and Imamat 26

Chapter V - Alamut and Imamat 67

Chapter VI - Persia and lmamat 67

Chapter VII - Indo-Pak and lmamat 74

Chapter VIII - Mowlana Shah Karim 86

Al-Husayni Aga Khan IV

Holy Ginan


"I hope more and more useful study will be made of the history of Islam and the history of Ismaili Caliphate in Egypt and the Caliphate of our cousins in Spain."

- Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah - (Message to Garden Library, Karachi, 1951)

"You must tell missionaries the essence of history, They must preach in Jamat Khana the history of Imam Jafar-as-Sadiq and the Prophet"

- Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah (Ismailia Association Conference, Karachi,1952)

His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismailia Association For Canada

Edmonton Regional Committee


The Edmonton Regional Committee of Ismailia Association for Canada takes great pleasure in publishing this book on Brief History of our Imams, compiled by our Religious Education Co-ordinator, Al-Wa'ez Hasan Nazarali. I hope this volume will prove rewarding for both teachers and students of Ismaili History.

For his unconditional devotion to the betterment of religious education in our Jamat, my Committee and I fervently pray for Al-Wa'ez Hasan Nazarali's good health, happiness and prosperity and hope that he will continue to inspire the young teachers in our Jamat.

Shiraz Jiwani



I am grateful to Abbas Al-Hamdani. B.A., LI.B. Ph-O.. London, Professor of Islamic History, islamia College, Karachi, Pakistan, Research Assistant, Ismailia Association of Pakistan, who has gone a long way in building up my Academic carper. I have been given to understand that presently he is a resident Professor at the Institute of Ismailis Studies, London. In most of my work, I have used his notes, as well as the material from the "Shia of India," by John Norman Hollister B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D., and "History of the Ismailia" by A.S. Picklay.

My gratitude also goes to our Chairman, Shiraz Jiwani and Honorary Secretary Shiraz Kanji for their encourgement which has been a great source of inspiration for me to revise the work on the History of the Imams.

Lastly, I wish to thank Mr. Ramzan Surani and Mr. Zul Ahmed for having very kindly provided photographs for this publication, and lqbal Mawji without whose assistance and co-operation it would have been impossible to publish this book.

Edmonton, Alberta

July 1 1, 1983

Al-Wa'ez Hasan Nazar Ali


One of the fundamentals of Ismaili Faith, after the demise of the last and final Prophet, has been the doctrine of the presence of the Living Imam to substitute the Rrophet in every period of Islamic History in order that the unity of the faithful be maintained throughout as in the time of the Prophet. It has, therefore, been of great importance for the faithful to have a vital knowledge of the History of the Imam, their regular and unbroken succession from generation to generation and their periodical guidance to the faithful according to the need of the times. With this end in view I have decided to issue these brief notes on the lives and works of each Imam. These notes will prove to be very useful and informative by our Religious Education Teachers. The contents of these notes are based on bare historical facts whose veracity has been vouchsafed from original and reliable sources.

This sort of work on the history of the Imams is not something new and I have not intended to launch on a new scheme of work or to claim that I am pioneer in writing the history of the Imams. In fact a considerable information is forthcoming about the Imams in various books on History written by various Muslim and non-Muslim authors. But these voluminous books are practically of little benefit to a layman and average reader who can neither spare time nor money to avail himself of these books. Again these volumes do not contain such exclusive chapters and parts as a faithful would like to read and remember easily and conveniently about a particular Imam. Such volumes contain so long and elaborate narrations of various historical facts here and there that they require very careful and patient study, long time, hard labour and in addition to all this, a very high price.

Another point to be borne in mind is that whatever has been written about the Imams in these works is not free from prejudice that was brought about as a natural result of the bitter political rivalry that existed between various political parties such as the Ummayyads, the Abbasids and the Fatimids during those remote periods of history. You cannot find, therefore, a clear and impartial account of any Imam in most of the so called historic books.

Under the above mentioned facts, it would not be an easy task for the average Ismaili to draw true information about his Imams from the extant books on history. The vast Ismaili literature which otherwise would have given true account of the Ismaili Imams' history, was almost totally destroyed through begot fanaticism of Saljuks and Mongols. It is only through hard labour of scientific research on the history of Islam that one can come across an impartial account of the Ismaili Imams. 1, therefore, hope that the Religious Education Teachers will avail themselves of the beneficial services that I am offering to them in these valuable lines.

Al - Wa'ez Hasan Nazar Aly

*** 1



lst Imam Mowlana Aly

2nd Imam Mowlana Husayn

3rd Imam Mowlana Zain al-Abidin

4th Imam Mowlana Muhammad al-Baqir

5th Imam Mowlana Ja'far as-Sadiq


1st Imam of the Shia and the 4th Caliph of the Muslims (10 A.H. - 40 A.H.)

Early Life:

Hazrat Aly was born in Mecca in 599 A.D. in the Hashimid family of the Arabs. His father was Abu Talib and mother was Fatima bint Asad. Hazrat Aly remained in the care of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He married the Prophet's daughter Fatima by whom were born Hazrat Hasan and Hazrat Husayn.

The Prophet's flight (Hijrah) to Medina:

At the time of Hijrah, Hazrat Aly helped the Prophet by remaining behind in Mecca in his place. In Medina, he was made the Prophet's partner and brother in the new Muslim fraternity (brotherhood). Hazrat Aly was a brave young warrior, standard bearer of the Muslim army. He fought in almost all the battles of the Prophet.

Ghadeer al-Khumm:

The Prophet made his last pilgrimage (Hijjatul-Widdal in 10,A.H. After making his last Hajj, on his way back to Medina, the Prophet received the Message of God regarding the declaration of Hazrat Aly as his successor and Imam-e-Mubin. The Prophet at once gathered all his followers at a place called Ghadeer al-Khumm. Then he declared Hazrat Aly as his successor at the same place on 18th of Zul Hijjah, which is celebrated by the Shia as the Idd Ghadeer al-Khumm.

*** 2

Sagifa bani Saida:

At the time of the Prophet's death in 11th Hijrah, Hazrat Aly performed all his funeral ceremonies, while Hazrat Abu Bakr was chosen Caliph at a place called Saqifa bani, Saida. It is said that before the Prophet died, he wanted to make a will but was prevented from doing so by Hazrat Umar.

The Caliphate:

Hazrat Abu Bakr always consulted Hazrat Aly and received his advice regarding the wars. At the time of his death, Hazrat Abu Bakr appointed Hazrat Umar as his successor. Hazrat Umar continued to consult Hazrat Aly and paid him due respect. Hazrat Aly was one of the six members of the 'Shural (council) appointed by Hazrat Umar at the time of his death. However, he was not selected and the Caliphate went to Hazrat Uthman. Hazrat Uthman proved to be a very weak ruler, partial to his family - the Umayyads, and was killed. Hazrat Aly was now recognized as Caliph in Medina in Hijrah 35.

The Battle of Jamel:

On being recognized as Caliph, Hazrat Aly had to face the opposition of Talha, Zubair and Aayesha (the Prophet's wife). There was a battle near Basra called the battle of Jamel (camel). In this battle, Hazrat Aly won; Talha and Zubair were killed and Aayesha was sent back to Mecca in retirement.

The Battle of Siffin:

Muawia was the governor of Syria and Hazrat Aly wanted to depose him from his position. Muawia now raised the banner of revenge for Hazrat Uthman. A battle was foughtbetween them at Siffin. When Muawia saw that HazratAly's army was about to win, he ordered the raisingof Qurans on the spears and appealing for arbitration (peace). Hazrat Aly was opposed to this but had to accept it on the insistence of a section of his army. These very same people, later on, opposed Hazrat Aly for accepting the arbitration. They withdrew from his camp and were known as the 'Khawarij' for that reason.

*** 3

The Battle of Naherwan:

The arbitration was later held at a place called 'Adhruh'. This led to confusion and the arbitration court withdrew without any decision. In the meantime, the Khawarij became so troublesome to Hazrat Aly that he had to proceed against them and defeat them at the battle of Naherwan.

Death of Hazrat Aly:

Now Muawia and Hazrat Aly were face to face preparing for a final showdown. Muawia was stronger because he had the support of his strong Syrian army. They were all well paid and fresh for battle as they had done very little fighting in the past. Muawia had almost a year of peace to prepare himself. On the other hand, Hazrat Aly's army was weak because it consisted of different groups. They were opposed to each other and all of them tired after the battles of Jamel, Siffin and Naherwan. In spite of this, Hazrat Aly succeeded in gathering an army of 40,000 men; but before he could proceed against Muawia, who had now declared himself as Caliph, he was killed in the mosque of Kufa on 15th of Ramadhan, 40 A.H. (661 A.D.), by a Kharajide called Ibn Muljim.


Hazrat Aly is regarded as the 1st Imam by all the Shias and as the 4th Caliph by all Muslims. Imamat has come down from the line of Hazrat Aly as Spiritual Leadership as opposed to the temporal leadership of the Caliphate, although certain Imams like Hazrat Aly and the Fatimids have been Imams as well as Caliphs at the same time.


Hazrat Aly was not only known for his bravery and courage and for his close relationship with the Prophet, but also for his vast learning and knowledge, and for his strength of character.

*** 4

ISMAILIS - The Shia of Aly

"Originally, after the death of the Prophet, the Muslims were united and there was no question of Shia and Sunni until after the murder of Khalifa Uthman. Then the world of Islam was divided into two branches which in Arabic means two Shias, namely two sections, one was known as the Shia of Hazrat Aly, the other as the Shia of Muawia. These two remained until such time as Imam Hasan made his peace with Muawia when Muawia became the undisputed Caliph and the Shias of Muawia became the great central stream of Islam and the Majority (Sunnis). While the Shias of Hazrat Aly remained as the other section (Shias). To that section of Hazrat Aly the Ismailis belong.

They take the view that as Hazrat Aly having himself cooperated with the first three Khaliphs, it is not now for us to judge the first three Khaliphs, but to respect their memory as Hazrat Aly himself did all his life according to historians even in Persia.

We believe that the Imamat belongs to the House of Prophet, but that for reasons best known to himself, Hazrat Aly did not raise the question during the lifetime of the first three Khaliphs and that is good enough for us not to raise the question which he did not raise himself.

In this way, though Shias of Aly, we can sincerely join in the prayer that Allah may in His great mercy forgive the sins of all Muslims."

(Message from Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah - 1950)

*** 5


Early Life

Hazrat Hasan was born in Medina on 15th Ramadhan, 3 Hijra. He was a great favourite of his grandfather, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, whom he resembled very much. He was a handsome man with artistic tastes and a quiet temperament. He had eight sons and seven daughters. He was kind, generous and hospitable.

The Caliphate:

Hazrat Hasan succeeded to the Caliphate on his father, Hazrat Aly's death on 17th Ramadhan, 40 A.H. (661 A.D.), at the age of 36. On his succession to Caliphate, Muawia challenged him and led an army against him. The main part of Hazrat Hasan's 40,000 troops under his personal command, was stationed in Medina, where a part of Muawia's army met him. Hazrat Hasan's commander Qays bin Saad and his uncle Ibne Abbas led an army of 12,000 men against Muawia's main forces at Maskin.

Muawia bribed lbne Abbas and won him over but failed to attempt Qays bin Saad. Mughira bin Shaba was sent by Muawia tohazrat Hasan for negotiations. He spread the rumour that Hazrat Hasan had agreed to surrender. Some of Hazrat Hasan's men got excited by this rumour and attempted to kill him.

Hazrat Hasan being betrayed by his uncle and disgusted with the attitude and the disunity among his own -nen, decided to surrender. An agreement was confirmed between Muawia and Hazrat Hasan on the condition that Muawia should not be succeeded by his son Yazid.

Death of Hazrat Hasan:

For nine years more, Hazrat Hasan lived a quiet life of retirement at Medina. After repeated attempts of Muawia to get Hazrat Hasan poisoned, he finally succeeded. Hazrat Hasan was poisoned by his wife Asama who was offered marriage to Yazid by Muawia, but when the deed was done, Muawia did not fulfil his promise.

*** 6

Aayesha refused Hazrat Hasan to be buried near the tomb of the Prophet; therefore, he was buried near the tomb of his mother, Hazrat Fatima. Hazrat Hasan died in Medina in 50 A.H., at the age of 47.


2nd Imam - (40 A.H. - 61 A.H.)

Early Life:

Hazrat Imam Husayn was born at Medina in 4 A.H. He was born one year after the birth of Hazrat Hasan, though it is also maintained that he was born together with Hazrat Hasan. He was born pre-mature. When Hazrat Aly died, he was about 35 years old and he was 45 years old when Hazrat Hasan died.

Opposition to Muawia:

Imam usayn kept his peace with Muawia and did not claim Caliphate according to the agreement between Muawia and Hazrat Hasan. Only in the last year of his life, when Muawia began to prepare for the succession of his son Yazid, that Imam Husayn showed opposition to Muawia. One fact remains clear and certain that on the death of Muawia, in 60 A.H., Imam Husayn did not pay his allegiance to Yazid and began preparing for a showdown with him, particularly because of the insistence and support of the provinces. Opposition to Yazid was due to the fact that Yazid was not considered capable of bearing the responsibility of the Muslim Empire due to his bad character.

Invitation from Kufa:

The most insistent invitation to Imam Husayn came from Kufa and he decided to go there. Imam Husayn was very keen on going to Kufa, although it was an open country, whose people were divided in their support, and where a very able and cruel governor of Yazid, namely Ibne Ziyad was in charge. However, it was the shortest cut to success, or failure, and Imam Husayn courageously decided to risk it.

*** 7

Muslim bin Aqil:

Imam Husayn first sent his cousin, Muslim bin Aqil, to prospect the situation there and to report to him whether he should go to Kufa or not. It is also mentioned that certain agents of Kufa's governor had pretended to be followers of Imam Husayn and had insisted on inviting him to Kufa. Therefore, as a cautious step, Muslim bin Aqil's visit was the most proper thing. Muslim bin Aqil gathered many supporters and remained in hiding, moving from place to place. The governor knew of this but did not touch him purposely, because he wanted Imam Husayn to come to Kufa where he could trap him. As soon as Muslim bin Aqil wrote to Imam Husayn to come immediately, the governor took action against him. He got him arrested and tortured him to death.

Journey to Kufa:

Relying on the report sent to him, Imam Husayn started his journey to Kufa. As he expected his army to be recruited in Kufa, he took with him only his family members and friends who volunteered to go with him. On his way, he met a few messengers of the governor of Kufa, who pretended to be the followers of Muslim bin Aqil, and they urged him to proceed to Kuf a.

The Tragedy of Karbala:

Imam Husayn reached the plain of Karbala, a little distance away from the River Euphrates, on the other side of which lay Kufa. There he saw the army of Yazid under Umar bin Saad, who prevented Imam Husayn's men from approaching water, as well as from going back to Medina. Imam Husayn's camp remained under seige for a long period of time, therefore, many of his men died of thirst. Even the sons of Imam Husayn, whom he tried to take to the river for drinking water, were wounded by arrows from the enemy, and died in Imam Husayn's arms.

Many of Imam Husayn's relatives died in actual fighting. During this battle, the standard bearer of the Imam, his half brother, Hazrat Abbas, showed such heroism before he died, that to this day, he is the inspiring hero of all Shia soldiers. His tomb in Karbala is next to that of Imam Husayn, an important shrine for the pilgrimage.

*** 8

Imam Husayn died on the 10th Muharram 61 A.H. 87 people died with him; among them were his eldest son and sons of Hazrat Hasan. The brothers of Imam Husayn who were killed in this battle were all sons of Hazrat Aly, but not of Fatima. There were 33 strokes of the lance and 34 blows of the sword on his body. Umar bin Saad ordered his horsemen to trample Imam Husayn's body underneath their horses' feet because he had lost 88 men in the conflict.

The man who gave Imam Husayn the fatal blow was an Arab, known as Shimar. It was this man who cut off Imam's head and took it to the governor of Kufa. The body of Imam Husayn was buried in Karbala where today there is an important shrine, and it is the centre of pilgrimage for all Shias. After Mecca and Medina, Najaf and Karbala are considered to be the most sacred places by the Muslims.

As for Imam Husayn's head, it was taken to the governor, who sent it to Yazid at Damascus. Yazid struck it on the mouth and said, "We have taken the lives of those who were dear to us but who became rebellious and unjust." Abu Barza al Aslami, who was sitting near Yazid, protested by saying, "Withdraw your hand, for have I not seen the mouth of the Prophet on this mouth in a kiss?"

The survivors of Imam Husayn's family were brought before Yazid. Yazid had already become unpopular for the brutal killing of Imam Husayn. Therefore, he did not want to anger the people more by killing these survivors, so he sent them back to Medina.

Thus ended the life and career of Imam Husayn, the Martyr (Shaheed) of Karbala. He died and sacrificed his family so that his followers and the Muslim nation may be saved from the Ummayyad rulers. Imam Husayn was 55 years old when he died.

*** 9


3rd Imam - (61 A.H. - 96 A.H.)

The Battle of Karbala:

In the battle of Karbala, most of Hazrat Aly's family was killed. Only a few survived; among them were two daughters, two sons and an aunt. The daughters were Zainub and Sakina; the sons were Aly Asghar (Zain alabidin) and Umar; the aunt was Fatima. Zain al-Abidin was very ill and for this reason had not participated in the battle. At the earnest request of his sisters, he was spared from death by the general Umar bin Saad, who, however, sent all the survivors to Yazid at Damascus. Yazid sent them safely back to Medina.

Early Life:

Imam Zain al-Abidin was born in Medina in 39 A.H., a year before Hazrat Aly's death. His mother was Sherbanu, the Persian princess, the daughter of Emperor Yazdegird. She had been brought to the court of second Caliph Hazrat Umar from the Persian war of conquest. She was bought by Hazrat Aly and was given in marriage to his son Imam Husayn.


After Imam Husayn's death in 61 A.H. in Karbala, Zain al Abidin became the next Imam at the age of 22. He lived a long life during which he saw many changes in the Ummayyad dynasty and many events in the Muslim Empire. Through all these fast moving events and changes, Imam Zain al-Abidin remained, on purpose, in retirement at Medina.

Imam Zain al-Abidin devoted himself to prayers, so much so that a whole book of his Du'a has come down to us as a mark of his piety.

He also devoted himself to the quiet organization of the Shia. After the tragedy of Karbala, what was needed mostfor the Shia was not a further conflict with the Ummayyads, but a long enough period of time to recover from the past wounds. This attitude proved the accuracy of Imam Zain al-Abidin's policy.

*** 10

Death of Imam Zain al-Abidin:

Imam Zain al-Abidin died in 96 A. H. at the age of 57. He was buried in the"Baqia" cemetery, where Hazrat Fatima and Hazrat Hasan were also buried. He was followed to the throne of Imamat by his son Muhammad, who was also caller "Al Baqir".


4th Imam - (96 A.H. - 125 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Muhammad al-Baqir was born at Medina on Tuesday, 3rd Safar, 57 A.H. He is said to have been 3 or 4 years old on the day his grandfather Imam Husayn was killed. His mother was known as Umme Abdullah and was the daughter of Hazrat Hasan. Thus Imam Muhammad al-Baqir combined in himself the families of Hazrat Hasan and Imam Husayn.


Imam Muhammad al-Baqir succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 96 A.H., at the age of 39. He lived during the period of Ummayyad rule. He continued his father's policy of quiet organization of the Shia without listening to the voices of dissatisfied non-Arab population of the new Empire of the Ummayyad rulers. The state had taken measures to suppress the opposition but in spite of this, it continued to impress the minds of people and found expression in certain Shiite movements like that of Zayd.

The Zaydi Movement:

Zayd, the brother of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir rose in revolt in the time of the Ummayyad Caliph Hisham. He united many South Iraqi and Persian followers with his Arab followers. He claimed Imamat as well as Caliphate. He said that under his Imamat, everyone would have an easy life, the taxes would be lessened, the rule of justice, as laid down in the Quran and in the practices of the Imams and the Prophet, would be established and so on. His party was becoming very popular, but it was cruelly crushed by the Ummayyads and Zayd himself was killed, although his descendants survived. Some of Zayd's followers later joined the Ismaili movement when it was organized.

*** 11

The System of Da'wa (Mission):

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir in refusing to join these anti-Ummayyad violent movements was not thereby supporting the Ummayyad rulers; in fact, he was much opposed to them, but his methods differed. He concentrated on peaceful organization until such time when the right opportunity came to overthrow the Ummayyad government.

Secondly, Imam al-Baqir wanted to inspire and keep the Shia united. For this noble task, he found two great supporters, Abdul Khattab and Maymun al-Qaddah. They lived up to the time of Mowlana Ismail and were the founders and architects of the developed Ismaili philosophy. Although previously the Isinailis had their great individual missionaries like Abuzer al-Ghaffari, the whole system of Dalwa was instituted. The theory of the Divine Light was also introduced, which later on gave rise to the related doctrines of the infallible Imams and their right as Quran Natik (speaking) to keep on interpreting from time to time the Quran Samit (silent), from its outward (Zaheri) meaning into its inward (Batuni) meaning.

Death of Imam al-Baqir:

The real cause of Imam al-Baqir's death is not known with certainty. He died in the year 125 A.H., at the age of 68 years. He was succeeded to the throne of Imamat by his son Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. Imam al-Baqir is said to have been very learned, and many of his sayings are reported. Because of his vast knowledge, he was given the title of al-Baqir, which means "Ample".


5th Imam - (125 A.H. -148 A.H.)

Early Life:

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, the son of Imam Muhammad alBaqir, was born in Medina in 83 A.H., during the Caliphate of the Ummayyad Caliph, Abdul Malik. His mother was known as Umme Farwa; she was the grand daughter of the first Caliph Abu Bakr. Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 125 A.H., during the time of the 11th Ummayyad Caliph, Walid the Second.

*** 12

The Abbasid Caliphate:

During his lifetime, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq saw many important events happen. He saw the revolts of Zayd and Abu Mansur; he watched the development of Abbasid propaganda. It was during his lifetime that the Ummayyad government was overthrown by the Abbasids.

A Learned Imam:

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq was a learned Imam. He was a master of Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) and Quranic interpretation. He was supposed to be the real founder of Shiism; even the Sunni scholars and learned men held him in regard. Abu Hanifa and Malik ibn Anas, the two famous Imams of Sunni laws, were counted among his pupils. They used Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's teachings and traditions in their works and respected the Imam. The famous scientist Jabir bin Hayyan was also the Imam's pupil. His many volumes are supposed to be based on thousands of pages written by the Imam himself, which unfortunately, have not been preserved to this day.

Ikhwan as-Safa (The Brethern of Purity):

A society called Ikhwan as-Safa was formed in the time of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. It began its political and intellectual activities during his lifetime. The society was influenced by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq and in turn, influenced his own teachings.

NOTE: It is not certain that the society of Ikhwan as-.Safa was formed during the time of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq.

Shia Doctrine:

The process of development of Shia doctrine, which began in the time of Imam al-Baqir, was continued by Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. He received the support of able Dais like Abdul Khattab and Maymun al-Qaddah.

Hazrat Fatima:.

So long Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's first wife was called as she lived, he followed the example of Prophet Muhammad with Hazrat Khadija and married no other. For 20 years, he had no sons except Hazrat Ismail and Hazrat Abdullah. After Fatima's death he married again and had other children - 7 in all.

*** 13

Death of the Imam:

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq died in 148 A.H., during the reign of the second Abbasid Caliph Mansur and was buried in the "Baqia" cemetery. He lived for 65 years and was Imam for 23 years.

The Ithna Asharis:

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq was followed by his son Imam Ismail to the throne of Imamat; although, after the death of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, a section of the Shia, following the Imamat of Hazrat Musa al-Kazim, separated. They are known as the Ithna Asharis (Twelvers). They are so called because the line of their Imams came to an end with their 12th Imam Mehdi, who they say went into Ghaib (hiding) in a cave and will return to them in due time.

                            5th IMAM

                      MOWLANA JA'FAR AS-SADI



           |                                        |

           |                                        |

    6th IMAM ISMAIL                      7th IMAM MUSA AL KAZIM

      (Ismailis)                                    |     

           |                             8th IMAM ALI BIN MUSA

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       7th IMAM                          9th IMAM MUHAMMED TAQI

MUHAMMAD BIN ISMAIL                                 |

           |                               10th IMAM ALI NAQI

           |                                        |

           |                            11th IMAM HASAN ASGARI

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           |                           12th IMAM MUHAMMED MEHDI

           |                                        |

           |                          (Ithna Asharis - Twelvers)


        49th IMAM


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6th Imam

It is not certain when Imam Ismail was born. He succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 148 A.H., during the reign of the 2nd Abbasid Caliph Mansur. He was closely associated with Dai Abul Khattab and his activities during the lifetime of his father Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. After Abul Khattab's death, some people began to form a separate Khattabi sect but were later brought back into his following by Imam Ismail.

Ithna Ashari writers relate many stories about the differences of opinion and even quarrels between Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq and his son Imam Ismail. They go as far as giving qualities of drunkenness to Imam Ismail. But this can be rejected as a prejudiced (jealousy) viewpoint. It may be true that due to the Abbasis Caliph Mansur's constant watch on Imam Ismail's activities, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq may have been forced to show a fake indifference.

It is accepted by all that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq had given the Imamat to Imam Ismail, but it is uncertain when I mam Ismail died. Most of the Sunni and Ithna Ashari writers hold that Imam Ismail died in 145 A.H., i.e., 3 years before his father's death, and therefore, Imamat was publicly changed from Imam Ismail to his brother Musa al-Kazim. Some of these writers narrate that when Imam Ismail died, Imam Ja'far Sadiq took the signatures of all the people of Medina who had assembled in his house for the funeral. They write that a document about the death of Imam Ismail was also shown to the Abbasid Caliph for his satisfaction. This story to be false.

*** 15

Ismailis, on the other hand, strongly believe that Imam Ismail outlived his father and no change of Imamat was ever made. It is not certain when Imam Ismail died, he may have died shortly after Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's death, or according to some reports, after 153 A.H. As long as 5 years after Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq's death, Imam Ismail is said to have been seen in Basra, where he cured a paralytic in the market.

Some later Ismaili writers hold that even if Imam Ismail died in 145 A.H., as it is believed by the Ithna Asharis and Sunni writers, it does not prove that the Imamat was changed to Musa al-Kazim; the Imamat, in fact, was passed on to Imam Ismail's eldest son, Muhammad bin Ismail.


7th Imam

Early Life:

Mowlana Muhammad bin Ismail was born in Medina in 131 A.H., during the lifetime of his grandfather Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. At the time of his father Imam Ismail's death, he was about 22 years of age. He became the next Ismaili Imam and with him, the period of Satr (concealment) begins.

The Da'wa (The Mission):

Imam Muhammad bin Ismail's Imamat falls in the period of the Abbasid Caliphs al-Mehdi, Hadi and a part of Haroon al-Rashid's reign. The Imam was supported by the dais, who worked in secret for him in all parts of the Empire. They established the Da'wa in his name wherever they went and thus the mission spread. The dais considered their alloted quarters their new homes. At the Centre (Medina), the Imam was supported by dais like Mubarak and Abdullah bin Maymun al-Qaddah.

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Journey to the East:

All the sources of our information agree that Imam Muhammad bin Ismail left Medina for the East. Some say he went to Farghana in Central Asia and stayed there; others say that he passed the last days of his life in Nishapur in Persia, where he married and where his son and next Imam, Wafi Ahmad, was born.

The famous author, Rashid-ud Din, says in his record, that after leaving Medina, the Imam went to Iraq, then to Rayy, where the Imam stayed for some time. After Rayy, he went to Dumand, a mountain resort near Rayy where he stayed for a while. Then he arrived in Samla in Iran, which was later named Muhammadabad, after him.

Some authors say that the Imam had to escape from Medina due to usurpation of Imamat by Musa al-Kazim, but the real reason was Imam's desire to spread, as well as make his Dalwa firm in the East.

Dais were sent to all parts of the world by the Imam and Ismailism spread throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world of that time. Large amounts of money were received as gifts and offerings to the Imam; the money was used for the Da'wa and the Faith.

Death of the Imam:

Imam Muhammad bin Ismail died in Nishapur, leaving many sons. He was succeeded to the Imamat by his son Wafi Ahmad. The date of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail's death is not known.


8th Imam

Early Life:

A son of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, by the name of Ahmad, was residing in Persia. He became the successor to the Imamat. He was born in Nishapur in the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Haroon al-Rashid and was later known by the title of Wafi. During his lifetime, his father, Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, had asked his Dais to adopt Imam's name as a cover and protection for the Imam.

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Abdullah bin Maymun al Qaddah:

Abdullah, the son of Maymun al-Qaddah, had served Imam Muhammad bin Ismail as his chief advisor and Dai throughout his life. After the death of Imam Muhammad bin Ismail, he continued to be the advisor of Imam Wafi Ahmad. He became Imam's "Hujja" (chief Dai), as well as his"Hidjab" (cover).

Headquaters of the Da'wa:

Salamiya, in Central Syria, had been adopted by Imam Muhammad bin Ismail and Dai Abdullah bin Maymun as their headquarters. However, in his last days, Imam Muhammad bin Ismail had to go to the East. During this journey, Imam Wafi Ahmad was born in Nishapur.

Imam Wafi Ahmad came to Salamiya, to the headquarters of the Da'wa. But the persecution and manhunt conducted by the Abbasid agents did not allow him to live in peace in Salamiya. Therefore, he had to travel to Daylam (Mazanderan), then to Ahwaz and onwards to Mesopotamia and Sammara. Ultimately, he came back to Salamiya where he died.

The Da'wa:

The Da'wa was conducted in full force during Imam Wafi Ahmad's time. Even when he was in Daylam, he had a group of thirty-two Dais with him to look after the Da'wa affairs. The Da'wa work went on smoothly without any serious disruption.

The Successor Imam:

Imam Wafi Ahmad had three sons; Ebrahim, Aly and Muhammad, and one daughter named Fatima. We do not know much about Ebrahim and Aly. Muhammad was born in Daylam and was appointed by Imam Wafi Ahmad as his successor to Imamat.

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9th Imam

Early Life:

Imam Taqi Muhammad succeeded to the throne of Imamat at Salamiya during the Caliphate of the Abbasid Caliph Mamun. Abdullah bin Maymun al Qaddah continued to be the Hujja or the Chief Dai of the Imam. The Imamat of Imam Taqi Muhammad was a distinguished one because of its literary and political activities. Dais had spread all over the Abbasid Empire.

Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa

(Encyclopedia of the " Brethern of Purity"):

A society called Ikhwan as-Safa or the Brethern of Purity, which was formed during the Imamat of Imam Ja'far as Sadiq, spread among all classes of people and in all counties during the time of Imam Taqi Muhammad. The Ismaili dais and other scholars began to compile a new encyclopaedic work called Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa under the direct supervision of Imam Taqi Muhammad. They summed up the Greek philosophical ideas and reconciled them with Ismaili Religious doctrines. They met secretly in a cave because of the unfavourable state of affairs and were scattered over various countries until the opportune time came. (See Note on page 12)

Dai Tirmidhi:

When the Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa was completed, Imam Taqi Muhammad gave orders to distribute copies of it in various mosques of the country. This was reported to the- Abbasid Caliph Mamun, who began to look for the source of this new form of mission. He invited many scholars to discuss certain philosophical matters in his court.

Among the many who went there was the Ismaili Dai Tirmidhi. He participated in the discussion with the scholars of different religions so brilliantly, that the Caliph pretended to have converted himself to Ismailism. He asked the Dai to reveal the name of the Imam to whom he promised to hand over the kingdom. As a precaution, the Dai revealed himself to be the Imam, upon which he was immediately beheaded. This saved the life of Imam Taqi Muhammad and exposed the enmity of Caliph Mamun towards the Imam and Ismailism.

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Death of the Imam:

Imam Taqi Muhammad died in Salamiya in the early decades of 3rd century after Hijra. He had two sons; Abdullah, who was appointed his successor, and Muhammad Said Khayr, who later became the guardian of his nephew, Imam al-Mahdi.


10th Imam

Early Life:

On his father's death, Imam Abdullah succeeded to the

Imamat at Salamiya. The aged Dai Abdullah bin Maymun died and the charge of the Da'wa was taken over by Imam's brother Said al-Khayr, who also officiated as Imam, as a Hidjab (coverman). Imam Abdullah is known as Raziyid-din Abdullah. He is said to have written the summary of the Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa, titled Risalat al-Jamia. The Jamia is usually added as the last chapter to the encyclopedia. Risalat al-Jamia is more Ismaili in character than the rest of Rasail Ikhwan as-Safa.

The Da'wa:

The mission on behalf of Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah became widespread; his Dais carried on his dalwa in distant lands too. Many people were converted to the Ismaili sect, and its organization became firm and well established. The Abbasids became alarmed by this and began their search for the Imam, but the dais kept his name a secret.

Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah lived in Salamiya, disguised as a Hashmid merchant. He held a great influence over the governor of Salamiya. Nobody suspected Imam's identity and this enabled him to direct the Ismaili movement well. Dais came to him from faraway centres. They brought with them great wealth which was placed in Imam's central treasury.

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The Time for Action:

About 260 A.H., it became clear to Imam Raziyid-din Abdullah that the time of action had come. In southern Iraq and Persia the Ismaili movement was so advanced that the dais were waiting for a word to start the revolt. Imam had to travel to the East to investigate the situation.

In Kufa, one of the most important Dais, Firuz, introduced to the Imam a person called Ibne Hawshab known as Mansur al-Yemen. It was decided that the first Ismaili state was to be established in Yemen, where Ibne Hawshab would prepare the ground in advance. This became a common understanding among all dais. Ibne Hawshab set out for Yemen that very year, 260 A.H., and reached there in 268 A.H.

The Future Imam:

From Kufa, Imam Raziyid-Din Abdullah proceeded to Askar Mukram and arrived there at the end of the same year, 260 A.H. Imam had married a lady from Basra and by her a son was born to him on 12th Shawwal, 260 A.H. He became the future Imam, Imam al-Mahdi.

After 8 years, i.e. in 268 A.H.' Imam Raziyid-Din died at Askar Mukram, leaving his son and Imam, 8 year old Mahdi, in charge of his brother Said al-Khair.

Said al-Khair:

Said al-Khair was officiating as Imam in Salamiya during the absence of Imam Raziyid-Din Abdullah. There he tried to usurp the Imamat for his own sons, but they all died. Thus Imam al-Mahdi's right remained intact. On becoming of age, Imam al-Mahdi married the daughter of Said al-Khair. She became the mother of the future Imam, al-Qaim. Soon after the wedding, Said al-Khair died at Salamiya. Imam al-Mahdi then took over the full charge of the Imamat and the Ismaili Dawa in his own hands.

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11th Imam Mowlana Muhammadinil Mahdi

12th Imam Mowlana al-Qaim

13th Imam Mowlana al-Mansoor


11th Imam

1st Fatimid Caliph - ( 268 A. H. - 322 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Muhammadinil Mahdi was born at , Askar Mukram on 12th Shawwal, 260 A.H. On his father's death, in 268 A.H., he took over the charge of Imamat at Salamiya, at the age of eight years

Imam al-Mahdi married his uncle Said al-Khair's daughter,

who became the mother of the future Imam, al-Qaim.

From Salamiya to Egypt:

Imam al-Mahdi continued his ancestors' policy of keeping on good terms with the local governor of Salamiya. He remained there in the guise of a Hashimid merchant, but as his presence there was getting exposed, he prepared to leave Salamiya. Moreover, the time for the establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate had also come. Imam had decided to go to Yemen as planned, but on reaching Egypt, changed his mind and made preparations to proceed to North Africa.

From Egypt to North Africa:

The governor of Egypt received orders from the Abbasid Caliph to arrest the Imam, but a highly placed Ismaili in the Egyptian government gave this information to Imam al-Mahdi, which made it possible for the Imam to leave the country in time. Imam al-Mahdi then went to Tripoli, but he was forced to leave the town by local governor. Therefore, the Imam proceeded to Sijilmasa; there he was arrested along with his followers, until he was rescued by his Dai Abu Abdullah al-Shii.

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Dai Abdullah al-Shii:

Dai Abu Abdullah al-Shii was sent by the Imam to Yemen, but when the idea of establishing the Fatimid Caliphate in Yemen was given up, he was asked to go to North Africa. On the way, he met some Kutama tribesmen in Mecca. They were impressed by his piety and invited him to go with them to their home in North Africa. Dai Abu Abdullah accepted their invitation.

During the time of the fifth Imam, Mowlana Ja'far as-sadiq, the Kutama tribesmen had been visited by Dais Halwani and Sufiyani, and these Dais had died there. Other Ismaili Dais had also visited the place.

Therefore when Dai Abu Abdullah came there in 280 A.H., he found no difficulty in gaining the support of the local population for Imam al-Mahdi. The whole of North Africa, including its capital, Qairawan, was now conquered by the Kutama soldiers under the leadership of Dai Abu Abdullah, who then prepared to invade Sijilmasa and release the Imam from captivity.

The governor of Sijilmasa, on hearing about Dai Abu Abdullah's arrival, fled from there. The Dai entered the town, released all the prisoners, including the Imam whom he greeted with tears in his eyes. He took the Imam to his army and told them to pay their respects to the Imam, for he was their Lord.

The Fatimid Caliphate:

The Imam and the Dai, along with their men, travelled to Raqqada, where in 297 A.H., the Fatimid Caliphate was established and Imam al-Mahdi was proclaimed as the first Fatimid Caliph. Here, all his family and treasures were brought to the Imam.

After having established the Fatimid Caliphate at Raqqada, Imam al-Mahdi began to build his Empire. He brought the Island of Sicily under his control and founded new towns Mehdiya and Muhammadiya. All this was in preparation for his final move, the invasion of Egypt.

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Imam al-Mahdi and Dai Abu Abdullah:

The relationship between the Imam and Dai Abu Abdullah was very good, but it began to deteriorate. The Dai's two brothers were unhappy because Abu Abdullah had surrendered his hard-won victory and authority to the Imam. The two brothers conspired against the Imam. At first, Dai Abu Abdullah did not join in, but he soon began to whisper doubts about the position of the Imam. This automatically led him to join his brothers in a conspiracy against the Imam.

As soon as Imam al-Mahdi came to know of this, he had Dai Abu Abdullah and his brothers killed in 298 A.H. Imam knew that although in the later part of his career, Dai Abu Abdullah got misled, in his earlier days, he had served the Imam well with love and loyalty. Therefore, the Imam decided to give the Dai a public burial, thus honouring him with gratitude.

Imam al-Mahdi's Death:

Imam al-Mahdi died on 15th Rabbi-ul-Awwal, 322 A.H. He had six sons, of whom al-Qaim was appointed as the next Imam. The news of Imam's death was publicised for more than three months so that imposters might not claim to flourish as Imam al-Mahdi.


12th Imam

2nd Fatimid C aliph (322 A.H. - 334 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Abu al-Qasim Muhammad al-Qaim bi-Amrillah was born in 275 A.H., in Salamiya, where his father, Imam Muhhamadinil Mahdi was in hiding. In 303 A.H., Imam al-Mahdi proclaimed Imam al-Qaim as his successor, and upon Imam al-Mahdi's death in 322 A.H., Imam al-Qaim became our 12th Imam and the second Fatimid Caliph.

During his father's life time, Imam al-Qaim subdued various Berber and Kharajide uprisings. He carried out two invasions on Egypt, which unfortunately had to be withdrawn.

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Imam al-Qaim as Caliph:

During his own Caliphate, Imam al-Qaim sent his slave Raydan with an army for another invasion in Egypt. Raydan was unable to proceed against Fustat and had to withdraw from Egypt.

Some of the Moroccan Berber tribes tried to revolt against the Imam, but they were subdued by another slave of the Imam, called Maysur.

A man called Ibne Talut revolted, claiming to be Imam al-Mahdi's son; he was soon brought under control by Imam al-Qaim with the help of his own Berber following.

In 323 A.H., Imam al-Qaim's fleet carried out a raid on some Mediterranean ports, such as Sardinia, Genoa and Circassia (Turkey), and brought back much booty.

The Revolt of Abu Yazid:

Half of Abu Yazid's career falls in Imam Qaim's lifetime, but as the rest continues in Imam al-Mansoor's time, we will discuss it in the next chapter.

Imam al-Qaim's Death:

Imam al-Qaim died during Abu Yazid's siege of Mehdiya. He died on 13th Shawwal, 334 A.H., at the age of 59, having ruled for 12 years. He was buried in Mehdiya. The news of Imam's death was kept secret until Abu Yazid's revolt was over, although Imam al-Mansoor had succeeded as the next Imam upon Imam al-Qaim's death.


13th Imam

3rd Fatimid Caliph - 334 A.H. - 341 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Abu Tahir Ismail al-Mansoor bi-Allah was born at Qairawan in 302 A.H. His entire upbringing was in North Africa, amid an atmosphere of battle and revolts, which helped him to develop a military spirit and discipline. He succeeded to the Fatimid throne at Mehdiya in 334 A.H., at the age of 32. Abu Yazid's revolt, one of the most dangerous the Fatimid Caliphs had faced, was still on. It was left to Imam al-Mansoor to complete the task which his father, Imam al-Qaim had so courageously undertaken.


Abu Yazid:

Among the many Berber tribes of North Africa, one of the most important was the Zanata tribe. They were at rivalry with the Kutama tribe, which had supported the Fatimids and brought them to power. To this Zanata tribe belonged Abu Yazid, who was born in Sudan. He accepted the Kharajide faith, converted his tribe to it and spread it all over North Africa and Sudan. Thus he became a great challenge to the Fatimid Caliphate.

During Imam al-Qaim's time, Abu Yazid conquered many important towns, including Baja, Raqqada and Qairawan. Imam al-Qaim sought refuge in Mehdiya, at which Abu Yazid laid a siege in 334 A.H. Due to the high morale which the Imam inspired and due to the large reserves of food, which were wisely stocked in the town in advance, the Fatimid capital was able to outlive the siege and tireout the besiegers, who under Abu Yazid, withdrew to Susa.

During Imam al-Mansoor's time, Abu Yazid continued to make trouble and Imam laid a seige at Susa. A battle was fought in which Imam al-Mansoor himself took part. The Imam defeated Abu Yazid and drew him away to Morocco. However, Abu Yazid continued to harass Imam's forces. He was finally defeated at Fort Kutama, where he was seriously wounded. He died soon after in a prison in 336 A.H.

Imam al-Mansoor respected the memory of Abu Yazid as he was a brave enemy and looked after all his family. Qadhi Nauman, the chief Fatimid Judge and author in the service of the first four Fatimid Caliphs, wrote an entire book on Abu Yazid; the book, however, has been lost. Besides Abu Yazid's revolt, Imam al-Mansoor had to face another revolt, but he was finally able to supress this revolt in 336 A.H.


The Fatimid army in Sicily was torn in quarrels between its two parties - the Arabs and the Berbers and due to this, Sicily was almost out of control. Imam al-Mansoor sent a very able governor, Hasan bin Aly, who succeeded in putting down all opposition and brought peace to the country.

Death of Imam al-Mansoor:

After seven years of rule, Imam al-Mansoor died on 28th Shawwal, 341 A.H., at the age of 39. He was buried at Mehdiya. Before he died, he appointed his son al-Muiz as the next Imam and Caliph.


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14th Imam Mowlana al-Muiz

15th Imam Mowlana al-Aziz

16th Imam Mowlana al-Hakim bi-Amrillah

17th Imam Mowlana az-Zahir

18th Imam Mowlana al-Mustansir bil-Lah

19th Imam Mowlana Nizar


14th Imam

4th Fatimid Caliph - (341 A.H. - 365 A.H.)

Early Life:

Imam Abu Tamim Maad bin al-Mansoor al-Muiz Li-din-Allah was born in the Fatimid capital, Mehdiya on 11th Ramadhan, 319 A.H., during the life of Imam al-Mahdi. Imam al-Muiz got a thorough training in Ismaili religious doctrines and the fine arts. As a young Imam, he added the religious and cultural qualities to the tradition of the soldier and administrator which his forefathers had so ably set forth. He is said to have learnt seven languages, and took much interest in law, even as a young Imam. He succeeded to the Caliphate and Imamat on 28th Shawwal, 341 A.H., at the age of 22.

Preparations in North Africa for Invasion of Egypt:

Previous attempts to conquer Egypt were made in the time of Imam al-Qaim and Imam al-Mahdi. Imam al-Muiz now prepared for another invasion. Imam spent two years in having roads constructed, wells dug, rest houses built, etc., to make it easy and organized for his troops for their march towards Egypt. The ports were ready with the fleet, the bases were ready for sending reinforcements, and a big army was recruited from the Berber tribes.

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The general, Jawhar, was put in charge of the invasion. Imam al-Muiz waited until Jawhar recovered from his sickness. He visited Jawhar everyday. On the day of Jawhar's departure in 357 A.H., the Imam gave him a most honoured send-off by asking the princes and all the officials and the troops to dismount and salute the general.

Conquest of Egypt:

Qazi Jawhar reached Alexandria and after occupying it peacefully, he proceeded immediately to Fustat. There, some people decided to put up a resistance, but they were soon put down. The town finally surrendered to Jawhar, who declared a general pardon. All the officials and ' honourables came out to receive him on 18th Shaban, 358 A.H. Qazi Jawhar immediately ordered the Khutba (a speech that traditionally precedes prayers), to be read in the name of Imam al-Muiz and chose a large area near Fustat to build the new Fatimid capital.

Construction of Cairo:

The building of the new town started at the time which the astrologers thought was inauspicious, because it was governed by the planet al-Kahir (Mars). The city was named after the planet as al-Kahira (Cairo), or more fully as al-Kahira alMahrusa (the guarded city of Mars). The city was built according to the plan previously prepared by Imam al-Muiz himself. It contained large squares, palaces and official buildings.

The al-Azhar University:

One of the most important constructions in Cairo was that of the chief mosque, Jamia al-Azhar, which is the oldest mosque in the city. It set forth a style of architecture, which characteristically became Fatimid. General Jawhar himself supervised its construction. Later, in the time of Imam al-Aziz, he built a huge library and a university, which is the oldest existing university in the world.

Qazi Jawhar's Reforms in Egypt:

The evils of famine, shortage, theft, looting, etc., which are the usual consequences of war, also afflicted Egypt; it required the administrative genius of Jawhar to control and improve the situation. He made many reforms in the system of distribution of food, in suppression of corruption and in installation of officers to supervise the work.

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Imam al-Muiz's Departure from North Africa to Egypt:

Before leaving North Africa for Egypt, Imam had to make the country secure by suppressing the revolt of Muhammad bin Khizr and by appointing a governor over North Africa.

The Imam then started his journey towards Sardinia, one of his Mediterranean bases. He regulated the affairs of Sardinia and Sicily and then went to Tripoli, where a section of his army revolted. From here he proceeded to Barqa on the borders of Egypt, where two of his eminent followers died.

Imam al-Muiz arrived at Alexandria, where Commandergroup of prominent citizens received him. Many of the officials were honoured with gifts by the Imam. Then they proceeded towards Cairo and entered the city on 7th Ramadhan, 362 A.H. Imam took over the administration in his own hands, while Jawhar returned to his work as the Commander-in-Chief of the army.


The Fatimid Imam and Caliph held the final supreme spiritual and temporal powers in his own hands. The administration, however, was divided among various officers as follows:


The Vazir: He was the chief political head of the administration. Although Qazi Jawhar was the real power behind the office, the Vazirate was given to the famous Yaqub bin Killis.


The Qadi: The real power of this office was retained by Qadi Nauman, the celebrated author of the principle Ismaili law book, Daim al-Islam and of many other standard works on law and history which have survived to this day, and which are our main source of history of the Ismailis during the early Fatimid period.

i) The Muhtasib (anti-corruption officer): This officer belonged to the department of the Qadi. He was like a magistrate who looked into cases. He was similar to an inspector of weights and measures, public morals, markets and oney changers. He was kind of an anti-corruption officer, security officer and secret olice.

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The Court of Mazalim: This was a special court set up for complaints against the officials of the administration. Its purpose was to check the high-handed rule and inefficiency.

e c)

Sahib al-Kharai (Financial administrator): The financial administration was the most centrally controlled. The local revenue officers in the provinces were directly responsible to the centre.


The Qaid (Commander-in-Chief): The policy of the Fatimids was to recruit loyal Berber tribes to their regular standing army and to have loyal commanders in full charge, without making any compromise on the point.


Qazi Jawhar : Jawhar, originally a Sicilian, was brought in the service of Imam al-Muiz as a young slave. By his able suppression of revolts in North Africa, he earned his position of importance and through his conquest of Egypt, he became the most influential man in the whole Fatimid Empire. He was not only a good soldier, but also an able administrator; he ruled Egypt for many years until Imam al-Muiz's arrival, at which time he withdrew to his military duties and remained the Commander-in-Chief until his death in 381 A.H., during the time of Imam al-Aziz.


Navy: The Fatimids laid particular stress on the navy because of the East-West trade on which they depended and also in preparation for their invasion of Egypt. In Imam al-Mahdi's time, Sicily was made a Fatimid base, and in Imam al-Muiz's time, Crete was also added. From the very beginning, the towns of Mehdiya and Mansooriya were built as naval bases, besides Susa which was already a naval base.

A large fleet of different kinds of ships was under construction for many years in the factories at Mehdiya and Susa. Thus Imam al-Muiz prepared a solid fleet for the encirclement of Egypt via Alexandria.

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The admiral of the Fatimid fleet was called Qaid al-Qawad and had ten commanders subordinate to him. The Qaid also controlled the entire secretariat of all the armed forces.


Sahib as-Shurta (the police department): The police department was made subordinate to the Courts of Law and the police were made to carry out the orders of the Qadis. The department was divided into lower and higher police, roughly corresponding to our civil and military police and were coordinated first by Jawhar himself and later by Yaqub bin Killis.

The Da'wa under Imam al-Muiz:


Central Da'wa: In the time of the first four Fatimid Caliphs, the central Da'wa was actively controlled by the Imams with the help of two important people, well-versed in Ismailism, namely Qadi Nauman and Ja'far bin al-Yemeni. Imam al-Muiz appointed Dai Ja'far as the head of the entire Da'wa organization throughout the Empire, while Qadi Nauman concentrated on writing historical and legal literature.


The Da'wa in India: In India, the Dalwa began from Imam al-Mahdi's time, whenYemeni Dai, Ibn Hawshab sent his nephew Dai al-Haytham to Sind, where he preached Ismailism. From there, the Ismaili faith spread to Multan and other parts of North India, and towards Gujrat as well.

Cultural Progress:

Literature of all kinds was produced in the time of Imam al-Muiz. The center of gravity shifted to Cairo, where Fatimids became the champions of a new scientific and literary renaissance. Imam al-Muiz himself was a learnedman; he knew many languages, namely, Nubian, Latin, Spanish and Slavonic. His libraries at Mansooriya and Cairo became famous for their rich treasures of books on almost any science. Learned people were given all the encouragement to use these libraries. Imam al-Muiz himself spent much of his time in the libraries reading.

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Imam al-Muiz encouraged and handsomely rewarded the writers under his patronage. We have already noted the literary output of the Da'wa as well as secular sciences of Qadi Nauman and Dai Ja'far bin Mansoor.

There were many other minor writers, Dais, as well as others. Two important poets were Ibn Hani and Tamim bin al-Muiz.


Morales and enthusiasm were kept up by the observance of various festivals of general Islamic nature; particularly those of Shia and Ismaili. Fridays and the two Idd days were the days of festivity. Moreover, the Shia festival of Idd-e-Ghadeer al-Khumm and the 10th of Muharram were also observed.

Birthdays of the Ahl-e-Bayt (the Prophet's family) and the Imams and certain important dates of the year were celebrated. Imam took part in the celebrations of the festivals. Local festivals of secular origin, like the "Flooding of the Nile" and "Navroz" (beginning of spring) were also encouraged by the Imam. Imam al-Muiz would hold huge receptions at his palace; processions were taken through the town and the whole town was illuminated.

Death of Imam al-Muiz:

After a glorious Imamat of brilliant achievements, Imam al-Muiz died on 11th Rabbi-ul-Akhar, 365 A.H., at the age of 45 years. Before his death, Imam al-Muiz appointed his son Nizar as the next Imam, who assumed the title of al-Aziz bi-Allah. The news of Imam al-Muiz's death was not announced for eight months; the Imamat and Caliphate of Imam al-Aziz was declared on Idd-ul-Azha in 365 A.H.

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15th Imam

5th Fatimid Caliph - (365 A.H. - 386 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Abu Mansoor Nizar al-Aziz bi-Allah was born on 14th Muharram, 344 A.H., at Mehdiya. He came to Egypt with his father, Imam al-Muiz, and succeeded to the Fatimid Caliphate and Imamat upon his father's death on 11th Rabbiul-Akhar, 365 A.H. The formal declaration of his succession took place eight months later on Idd-ul-Azha in 365 A.H.

The Maghrib (North Africa):

Bulkin was ruling the Maghrib as the governor of the Fatimids. The Zanata tribe of the Berbers again tried to create trouble, but was again suppressed by Bulkin. Shortly afterwards, Bulkin died; his son Mansoor succeeded him as the governor.

Mansoor, however, got a Fatimid revenue officer killed, and also showed disloyalty to the Imam. Imam al-Aziz sent a Dai to the Kutama tribe with whose help Mansoor was to be suppressed. However, the Dai was killed and Mansoor remained in power.

In 386 A.H., both the Imam and Mansoor died and the matter of the governorship of the Maghrib remained unsettled. The next Imam, Mowlana al-Hakim appointed Mansoor's 12-year old son as the governor of Maghrib.

Vazirate - Yaqub bin Killis:

Yaqub bin Killis was a Jew from Baghdad. He went to Maghrib and entered into the service of Imam al-Muiz. The Imam appointed him his financial administrator. He carried out his work with utmost efficiency and loyalty. He came to Egypt with Jawhar's army and actually controlled the administration of Egypt.

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During the last years of Imam al-Muiz's rule and the first two years of Imam al-Aziz's Caliphate, Yaqub rose to a position of greater and wider influence and in 367 A.H., Imam al-Aziz made him the chief Vazir. We have noticed how the institution of Vazirate had developed from the small beginning in the time of Imam al-Mahdi until it became established as a recognized and distinct office of supreme importance in the time of Imam al-Muiz. Yaqub bin Killis thus became the first Chief Fatimid Vazir in the true sense of the term.

Yaqub organized the revenue administration throughout the Empire. He directed the trade.of the Empire, controlled the income from different provinces and introduced a "Currency Reform", thus swelling the state treasury with enormous revenue. He encouraged religious education at Jamia al-Azhar and under his orders a regular university was instituted at al-Azhar.

In 373 A.H., he was deposed from Vazirate and imprisoned by the orders of Imam al-Aziz, as he was suspected of murder. The Imam, however, released him after a few months,returned his money and honoured him. His services toward sadministration of the Empire were indispensable. Yaqub bin Killis continued to serve as the Chief Vazir until he died in 380 A.H., after 15 years of service under Imam al-Aziz.

The Qadi:

After Qadi Nauman's death in 363 A.H., his son succeeded him in the office of the Chief Qadi. When the son, Aly bin Nauman, died in 374 A.H., he was followed by his brother, Muhammad bin Nauman. The new Qadi was a very learned man. He continued in the office in the time of the next Caliph, Imam al-Hakim and died in 389A.H.

The famous General Jawhar also died in 381 A.H., during Imam al-Aziz's time.

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Death of Imam al-Aziz:

Imam al-Aziz died at Bilbays while on his way to meet the Byzantine forces in Syria. He died of a stomach ailment on Tuesday, 25th Ramadhan, 386 A.H. When on his death-bed, he called his treasurer, Barjuwani, his Qadi, Muhammad bin Nauman, and the Amir, Hasan bin Ammar and entrusted to their guardianship the next Imam, Mowlana al-Hakim, who was only 11 years old.


16th Imam

6th Fatimid Caliph - 386 A.H. - 411 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana al-Hakim bi-Amrillah was born on 23rd Rabbi-ul-Awwal, 375 A.H., in Cairo. In 383 A.H., when he was only 8 years old, his father Imam al-Aziz declared him as his successor. Upon Imam al-Aziz's death in 386 A.H., Imam al-Hakim became the next Imam and Caliph at the age of 11 years. The power rested mainly with the council of guardianship in which Barjuwani and Ibn Ammar were the prominent figures.

Barjuwani, whose ethnic origin is uncertain, was in charge of the Turkish guards of the Empire. He was also the treasurer and the tutor of Imam al-Hakim, and as such, held great influence. Ibn Ammar belonged to the Kutama Berber tribe and held control over the Berber guards of the Imam. Both, Barjuwani and Ibn Ammar, were trying to depose each other and in this struggle, both of them were killed.

Imam al-Hakim boldly acknowledged responsibility at the young age of 15 years and began to take direct interest in the affairs of the state. He appointed Husayn, the son of the famous General Jawhar, as his new Vazir.

The business of the country was conducted at night, after the court. Imam al-Hakim would ride through the town to see for himself the condition of his people and to hear their complaints.

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As negligence and pleasure-making increased among his people, the Imam ordered his people to revert to conducting their business during daytime. The Ismaili laws on prohibition of certain vegetables, fish and wine, and the introduction of certain forms of prayer, were now implemented.

The Christians and Jews who were accustomed to very lenient treatment were put under certain restrictions. The Sunnis also followed many aspects of the Ismaili laws. In 394 A.H., when Imam al- Hakim was collecting large quantities of wood on Mt. Muquattam for some scientific purpose, the people panicked, thinking that probably the wood was being gathered for burning of all the opponents of the Caliph. Imam had to assure those people that he had no such intention.

Many of the restrictions, however justified, had to be removed in 397 A.H., in order to please the people. All this happened during the Vazirate of Husayn bin Jawhar, whose mismanagement had brought much discredit to the Imam. Husayn was dismissed from his position and later executed when he secretly took part in Abu Rakwa's revolt.

Abu Rakwa's Revolt:

Abu Rakwa was an Ummayyad prince from Spain who had taken refuge in North Africa with the Zanata people, the traditional enemies of the Fatimids. His original name was Walid bin Hisham; he was called Abu Rakwa because he carried a leather bottle and lived like a Darwaish. Banu Qurra on the Egyptian border joined Abu Rakwa and they occupied the town of Barqa. Imam al-Hakim sent Inai with an army to meet the forces of Abu Rakwa, but he was defeated at Barqa and killed.

When Abu Rakwa came close to Alexandria, the Imam sent an army under the faithful general Fadl bin Hasan bin Saleh, who met Abu Rakwa on the banks of the Nile. The two armies, separated only by this great river, proceeded southwards on the opposite banks, until they were just outside Cairo, where they camped. Abu Rakwa tried to stage a diversion, but his main army was defeated by Fadl and he fled to Sudan. There he pretended to be a Fatimid envoy, but when the Nubian King came to know his true identity, he handed him over to the Fatimid General Fadl, who had come to Sudan. Abu Rakwa was taken back to Cairo where he was sentenced to death.

Egypt was in a state of bankruptcy after the revolt of Abu Rakwa. The state treasury was empty, food was scarce. The Nile failed to rise and the country was caught in the clutches of famine and plague. To keep up the morale of his people, the Imam removed all the restrictions imposed upon different sects of Muslims and severely punished the Christian and Jewish revenue officials.

Abbasid Manifesto of 406 A.H.:

In the time of Abbasid Caliph, Qadir bi-Allah, an official manifesto was issued, declaring the Fatimids not to be the genuine descendants of Hazrat Aly and Fatima, but of Daysan bin Said. However, history has proved this manifesto to be a slander and not a fact.

The Institutions Under Imam Hakim bi-Amrillah:

a) Religious Contributions:

The mosque begun by Imam al-Aziz known as Jamia al-Anwar, was completed by Imam al-Hakim in 393 A.H., and renamed Jamia al-Hakim. In the same year, Imam al-Hakim had another mosque built, known as Jamia Rashida, of which there is no trace now. At a place called Maqs, another mosque was built by the Imam, and also a group Of other mosques called Masajid Muallaqa, which have all been destroyed. A list of mosques was compiled and sum of 9,220 dirhems a month was alloted for their upkeep.

Imam al-Hakim spent large sums of money for theologians, muezzins, Quran readers and for maintaining wells, roads, hospitals and centres for providing free Kafans to the poor people. Most of the money for these and other such purposes came from Imam's private treasury.

b) Dar-ul-Ilm or Dar-ul-Hikma (Academy of Sciences):

The famous academy of sciences, called the Dar-ul-Ilm, or the Dar-ul-Hikma was built by Imam al-Hakim in 395 A.H.

It became the biggest centre learning and research in the whole Muslim world. However, the academy was destroyed t)y Afzal Shahin Shah, the son of Badr al-Jamali. It was later revived on a different site but was completely wiped out with the end of the Fatimid Caliphate.

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Large treasures of books were preserved there; scientists and learned men used it as an academy of sciences. People who visited Dar-ul-Ilm were provided with ink, paper and pen free of charge. Lavish gifts were given to the scholars attached to this academy.

Dar-ul-Ilm was also used as the headquarters of Da'wa, which was under Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad bin Nauman's charge.

c)Scientific Activities:


A huge canal at Alexandria at the cost of 15,000 dinars.

ii) An observatory at Qarafa.

iii) The famous astronomer Ibn Yunus prepared the astronomical tables (Zij) in four volumes.

iv) The principle of a fixed calendar (not necessarily depending on the appearance of the moon), probably first adopted in the time of Imam al-Muiz, was put into practice by Imam al-Hakim.

v) Ibn Haytham: The famous scientist and engineer, Ibn Haytham, was invited toCairo by Imam al- Hakim. Ibn Haytham left his native town Basra and when he approached the limits of Cairo, the Imam came personally to receive him. Ibn Haytham was entrusted with the task of finding the source of the Nile; however, he returned from Aswan abandoning the project. Cairo, Ibn Haytham was put in charge of the scientific activities. After the death of al-Hakim, he took residence in Jamia al-Azhar and wrote many books on Scientific subjects. He died in 430 A.H. Ibn Haytham became famous due to his works on Geometry. He is known as al-Hazam in Europe

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Da'wa Under Imam al-Hakim:

The Central Da'wa:

a) Sayyedna Hamidud-din-al-Kirmani:

Two important Dais preceded al-Kirmani as the heads of the entire Da'wa organization. Later al-Kirmani took over the charge of the central Da'wa under Imam al-Hakim.

Al-Kirmani was from the province of Kirman in Persia. It is not known when he was born. During Imam al-Hakim's time, he became the Chief Dai of Iraq and Persia.

Dai Kirmani came to Egypt after the revolt of Abu Rakwa to strengthen the Da'wa under the guidance of the Imam. He re-started the Dawat work at Dar-ul-Ilm which had temporarily closed down. Here he worked under Khatgin, whowas Dai Du'at.

b) The Da'wa in India:

Besides the central Da'wa, the Ismaili Da'wa was active in Syria, Yemen, North Africa, Persia, Iraq and India.

During this time, Northern India was the scene of great dawat activity. Multan had an Ismaili dynasty of Dais from 354 A.H., to 401 A.H.

The Last Years of Imam al-Hakim (407 A.H. - 411 A.H.)

a) Toleration:

During these years, Imam al-Hakim gave a very liberal new deal to the Christians and Jews. Their churches were restored and rebuilt and many of the restrictions were removed. The Sunni population was allowed to pray in their own way and even the rising Druze community was not interfered with.

This toleration was, however, not appreciated by the people, and they spread a scandal about the chastity of Imam al-Hakim's sister. The Imam wanted to punish the wrongdoers, but his guards went to such an extent in their revenge that Imam had to ask them to stop the conflict.

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Another false story was spread to the effect that Imam's sister, being thus exposed of her crime in front of her brother, got the Imam killed; however, the real circumstances of Imam al-Hakim's death will be discussed later.

b) The Rise of the Druzes:

It was during Imam al-Hakim's reign that the sect of the Druzes came into existence. The word Druze appears to have been derived from the name of Persian missionary, Muhammad bin Ismail Darazi, who arrived in Egypt in the year 407 A.H. Ismail Darazi was a Batinite who believed in the transmigration of the soul. He wrote a book in which he taught that the divine spirit which God had breathed into Adam had passed on in due succession from prophet to prophet, then to Hazrat Aly until at length it had found its abode in Imam al-Hakim. All those who conformed to Darazi's teachings, became known as Druzes and are still found in very large numbers in Lebanon and other places.

c) Disappearance and Death of Imam al-Hakim bi -Ambrillah:

In 415 A.H., a man was brought before Imam Zahir who confessed killing Imam al-Hakim for religious motives. This is an authentic report. There was a Kutami Amir, Yusuf bin Dawwas in the court of Imam al-Hakim. He was charged with corruption and was also suspected of having instigated this assassin to kill Imam al-Hakim.

It was Imam al-Hakim's custom to go out at night to his observatory at Mt.Muquattam for meditation and for observing the stars. On one such visit, he was surprised by four assassins on the way, three of whom escaped. The one who was caught was brought to Imam az-Zahir, together with the blood stained shirt of Imam al-Hakim.

The later Christian historians spread a malicious story, which was reproduced by many Muslim writers, that the Imam's sister, Sitt-al-Mulk, was in love with Yusuf bin Dawwas. This matter had come to the knowledge of the Imam, but before Imam al-Hakim could take any action, his sister conspired with Yusuf to have her brother, the Imam, killed.

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The Druzes believe that Imam al-Hakim did not die, but was taken away from Mt. Muquattam to the highHeavens. They believe that he still lives in concealment and will reveal himself in due time when the world is ready for him.

Character and Personality of Imam al-Hakim:

Tall, fair and strong, with sparkling blue eyes and grave face, Imam al-Hakim had a towering personality, which imposed its stamp of genius on every person he came across. He was brave, generous, learned and a just ruler. Imam al-Hakim's reign was marked not only by revolts, but also by the scarcity of rains and by famine and plague. How he maintained his authority through all these difficulties is a wonder.


17th Imam

7th Fatimid Caliph (411 A.H. - 427 A.H.)

Early Life and Succession:

Mowlana Abu Maad Ali az-Zahir was born in Cairo on 3rd Ramadhan, 395 A.H. When his father Imam al-Hakim died on 27th Shawwal, 411 A.H., Imam az-Zahir was 17 years of age. Before his death, Imam al-Hakim had already appointed az-Zahir to succeed him as the next Imam.

The news of Imam al-Hakim's death and Imam az-Zahir's succession were kept secret from the people for three months according to the usual Fatimid tradition, for the sake of security and unity. In the month of Safar, 412 A.H., it was publicly announced that Imam az-Zahir had succeeded his father to the Imamat and the Fatimid Caliphate. Imam took the title of az-Zahir li-Aziz din-Allah.

Sitt al-Mulk:

Because the Imam was still young, his aunt, i.e. Imam al-Hakim's sister, Sitt al-Mulk, ruled the Empire for five years i.e. until 416 A.H., when she died. After that, Imam az-Zahir took the reigns of Government in his own hands. At that time he was 22 years old.

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Saif-ad-Dawla Yusuf bin Dawwas:

We have seen in the previous chapter that Saif-ad-Dawla was responsible for getting Imam al-Hakim killed. (It should be noted that Saif-ad-Dawla was not the killer, but one who may have instigated the killing.) Saif-ad-Dawla was a powerful Amir and could not be dealt with immediately. So Sitt al-Mulk waited for an opportunity to avenge her brother, Imam al-Hakim's death. One day, she invited Saif-ad-Dawla to the palace to present him with gifts. However, on his return journey from the palace, she sent a party of slaves to surprise Saif-ad-Dawla and kill him. This was done in 412 A.H.

Council of Administration:

The Caliphate of Imam az-Zahir was not safe in the hands of the Vazirs and Sitt al-Mulk had to deal with them firmly. Before her death in 416 A.H., Sitt al-Mulk appointed an administrative council. Imam az-Zahir did not interfere much in the affairs of the administration which were being looked after by the appointed council.


The year 416 A.H., saw the beginning of a terrible famine in Egypt, because the Nile did not rise. The famine lasted for three years; there were no crops; bread was almost impossible to get; animals became so scarce (a cow was sold for 50 dinars), that their slaughter was prohibited by law. Looting and rioting prevailed throughout the country; the army could not be paid; officials fell out with each other; even the pilgrims going to Mecca were attacked and looted; the slaves revolted and became the most dangerous. The Caliph, Imam az-Zahir appealed to the rich for funds, but very little came forth. However, in 41 B A.H., the Nile began to rise, the country returned to normal and order was restored.

Syria, Byzantium, and Iraq:

Because of the insecure conditions in Egypt due to famine, the Syrian towns were getting out of Fatimid control. Before Imam az-Zahir could deal with them, he saw it fit to conclude a truce with Constantine VIII of Byzantine.

After establishing peace with Byzantium in 418 A.H., Imam al-Zahir turned his attention to Syria and brought it under Fatimid rule once more.

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In 425 A.H., Imam az-Zahir sent a group of Dais to Iraq. In Baghdad, they were very successful in converting a large section of people to Ismailism.

Last Days:

Imam az-Zahir is known for his liberal and just rule. Under his Caliphate, the people led a prosperous life, except for the terrible years of famine. He had an artistic temperament and he encouraged art and music. He established a school for slaves in which they were taught the art of fighting and many other crafts. He opened an armament factory in which 3,000 employees worked. He built the Lulu palace and had a hobby of collecting precious stones.

In 427 A.H., Imam az-Zahir caught the plague; he was taken to the "Garden of the Strand" at Maqs and from there to port of Cairo, where he died on 15th of Shaban, leaving the Caliphate and Imamat to his son Mustansir, who was then seven years of age. Imam az-Zahir was 32 at the time of his death; he had ruled for 16 years.


18th Imam

8th Fatimid Caliph - (427 A.H. - 487 A.H.)

Early Life:

a) Accession: In Cairo, there were two Jewish merchants, Abu Saad and his brother. Imam az-Zahir had bought a Sudani slave woman from Abu Saad and had married her. By her he got a son who was named Maad. He was born on 16th Ramadhan, 420 A.H. Eight months later, in 421 A.H., Imam az-Zahir appointed Maad as his successor. On this occasion, Imam az-Zahir gave robes of honour as a gift to nobles and spent a large amount on charity.

When Imam az-Zahir died on 18th Shaban, 427 A.H., his Vazir Jarjarai, in accordance with the previous "nass", took an oath of allegiance from the people for Imam Maad who now adopted the title of al-Mustansir bil-Lah (i.e. the seeker of help from Allah). Thus Imam al-Mustansir came to the throne of Imamat and Caliphate while he was only seven years old.

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b) Queen Mother and the Early vazirs

Since Imam Mustanisir bil-Lah was very young, his another and her former master, Abu Saad, began to take undue interest in the affairs of the state. As long as Vazir Jarjarai lived, their interference was kept in check.

Jarjarai was a vazir of long standing. He had served under Imam al-Aziz, Imam al-Hakim and Imam az-Zahir and was responsible for successfully installing al -Mustansir on the throne. During his vazirate, Egypt saw peace and prosperity. He died in 436 A.H.

After Jarjarai's death, the influential merchant Abu Saad began his intrigue for power. Dai Muayyad who witnessed Abu Saad's interference, writes, "The Jew (Abu Saad) was outwardly in her (Queen Mother's) service, but in reality had full control of the state." However, Vazir Sadaqa got tired of Abu Saad's overbearing attitude and had him and his brother assassinated. This enraged Imam's mother and she ordered the assassination of Sadaqa, who was followed by two other vazirs. This confusion and chaos finally halted with the appointment of Yazuri, whose administration lasted for eight years, a period of prosperity, efficiency and reforms.

Sikkin the Pretender:

In 434 A.H., a man named Sikkin, who had great physical resemblance to Imam-al-Hakim, declared that he was Imam al-Hakim himself and that he was in hiding after his disappearance in 411 A.H. He gathered some followers and attacked the palace built by Imam al-Hakim but was soon captured and put to death.

The Maghrib (North Africa) and the Eastern Trade:

a) Loss of North Africa:

North Africa gradually became divided into various Shiite and non-Shiite groups and became independent of the Fatimids forever. North Africa was always a liability to the Fatimid Caliphate and now that it had become independent, no effort was made to regain it. However, this had a great effect on the trade policy of the Fatimid State, which we shall examine later.

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b) Loss of Sicily:

Loss of North Africa affected Sicily also. Fatimid contact with Sicily was mainly through North Africa. When the link snapped, the contact was broken. Thus Muslim Empire in Sicily came to an end and this also affected the Fatimid trade policy towards the west.

c) Diversion of Trade:

The Fatimid trade was diverted from the west to the east because of the loss of North Africa and the advance of the Saljuqs, which resulted in the thickening of rivalry with the Abbasids and the capture of Baghdad and the decline of the Fatimid Empire.

The Yazuri Administration:

Abu Muhammad Hasan Yazuri became vazir in 442 A.H., and remained in office until 450 A.H. These eight years of hisvaziratewere marked by peace and prosperity in thecountry. He was a poor fisherman's son, originally fromYazur. He rose from position to position until he became the Qadi of Egypt. He was subsequently made Chief Dai also. He introduced the policy of agricultural reforms and for that he needed to suppress the factional quarrel and corruption at home and to discontinue the policy of territorial expansion abroad. Although his noble aim kept him in office for eight years, the steps he took towards achieving it, created serious differences of opinion and brought his downfall. In 449 A.H., Yazuri died. It is said that he was poisoned by the order of the Queen Mother. According to another version, he was executed.

Visit of Dai Muayyad:

A Persian Dai, by the name of al-Muayyad Fid-Din as-Shirazi, born in Shiraz of an Ismaili family, had been a Fatimid Dai in Persia and Iraq. He started from Persia in 438 A.H., and arrived in Cairo in 439 A.H. From then on he played a very important role in Fatimid service.

On his arrival in Cairo, he found the administration in a state of chaos. Muayyad, who was the most qualified tobecome the Chief Dai, was constantly frustrated in his ambition. First Yazuri took over the Da'wa from Ibn Nauman and appointed Muayyad only as his secretary towrite lectures (Majalis) for him. Then when his work increased and Yazuri had to give up the Da'wa, Ibn Nauman was brought back and Muayyad, for the second time, was disappointed. After Ibn Nauman's death, his son became the Chief Dai and Muayyad was put in charge of only a section of the secretariat. Shortly afterwards, he was sent away on an expedition against Baghdad.

When he returned in 449 A.H., the situation had not changed much. Yazuri had died and the country was in a state of chaos. He did not receive the welcome he deserved. Muayyad continued with his religious duties in retirement. In 450 A.H., he was appointed the Chief Dai. In 453 A.H., he was sent to Syria in exile by the Vazir. He returned to Cairo in 454 A.H., and the Imam put him in charge of organizing the Fatimid Da'wa abroad.

The period of 454 A.H. to 459 A.H., was a period of chaos and famine, but Dai Muayyad passed it in conference with Dai Lamak at the Dar-ul-Ilm, reorganizing the entire Fatimid Da'wa of the world. Muayyad remained in charge of the entire Da'wa until his death in 470 A.H. He wrote most of his works during his last years of life.

Visit of Dai Nasir Khusraw:

Nasir Khusraw, born in Khurasan in 394 A.H., resided mostly in Balkh, from where he made many journeys. He belonged to Shii Sayyed family of government officials. In his youth, he wrote poems. He was comparatively a less educated man, nevertheless, held a great appeal for the masses. He started on a long journey in 437 A.H., which brought him to Egypt in 439 A.H.

As his work was intended for general reading, he was cautious when referring to the deeper matters of religion. Nevertheless, he made it very clear that he believed in the allegorical interpretation (hidden meaning) of the Quran. He accepted the Fatimid Caliph as the true Imam and adhered wholeheartedly to the doctrines of the Fatimid sect. His book gives us a vivid picture of Egypt. He gives a most glowing description not only of the splendours of the Fatimid court, but of the extraordinary wealth and prosperity of Cairo and of the Bazaars and their merchants. His visit to Egypt inspired him to such an extent that from then onwards, he completely devoted his time to missionary work for the Fatimids. The Ismailis of Central Asia consider Nasir Khusraw as their patron saint even to this day.

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The Palace of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah

Nasir Khusraw gives us a glowing description of Imam's palace. He says that he had an occasion to see the palace the festival of Idd in 441 A.H. The grounds of the palace were as big as the town of Mayyafariqin. It had a mountain like palace in its midst, a building on each side of it call the Little Palace and the Great Palace, with a huge square in front where thousands of troops could parade. Palace guards numbered 500 foot guards and 500 horsemen. So 30,000 people lived in the palace, of whom 12,000 we servants.

The Caliph's throne was 12 feet high and gilded on three sides. It had engravings of hunting scenes and inscriptions beautiful hand. It had delicate furnishing of silk fr Constantinople and steps of silver. The throne glowed with different lights from different angles. Nasir Khusraw remarked that a whole book could be devoted to the description of the throne alone.

From the palace ran a huge tunnel opening outside the palace grounds. Through it, a person could ride on horseback. This tunnel was used by the Caliph (Imam).

Nasir ad-Dawla's Mischief:

Nasir ad-Dawla was appointed the governor of Syria, but on account of his inefficiency, he was deposed and recalled to Cairo, where he was put in charge of the Turkish regiment of the Fatimid Army. He bidded his time for revenge against the Caliph, Imam Mustansir bil-Lah.

Though deposed in Cairo, he was able to hold his own in Alexandria, where he had the support of the Arab and Berber tribes. Nasir ad-Dawla attacked Cairo, which was defended by the rival Turkish guards. After burning part of Cairo and conquering the defenders, Nasir ad-Dawla entered the City as a conqueror.

After his victory over the unhappy city, Nasir ad-Dawla became so overbearing and tyrannical in his conduct that he provoked even his own followers, and was eventually assassinated in 466 A.H.

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Invitation to Badr-al-Jamali:

The country was torn between the Turkish and the Sudani soldiers, between famine and plague and between the loot and plunder by adventurers like Nasir ad-Dawla. Vazirs followed one after the other in quick succession. There was hardly anyone in the country who could restore it to peace and prosperity. A person with tremendous courage and ability was needed to save the day. At this time, the Imam thought of one such person, Badr al-Jamali, the Fatimid governor of Akka, whom the Imam invited to Cairo. Badr al-Jamali came to Cairo on lmam's instructions and accomplished what he was required to do.

Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's Last Days:

After the death of Dai Muayyad and Dai Nasir Khusraw, the Persian Dai Hasan bin Sabbah came to Egypt in 471 A.H., during Badr al-Jamali's vazirate. Hasan bin Sabbah asked the Imam who his successor would be and the Imam named Shah Nizar as his successor. Badr al-Jamali, however, wanted to see Mustaali, the younger son of the Imam as the next Imam. Badr al-Jamali's and Hasan bin Sabbah's groups clashed on this issue, and Hasan bin Sabbah was expelled from Egypt. Badr al-Jamali, however, did not live to install Mustaali on the throne, for he died a month before Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's death. Imam Mustansir bil-Lah died in Zul-Hijja, 487 A.H.

The Bohras:

After Badr al-Jamali's death, his son, Afzal Shahin Shah, was appointed as the next vazir. Upon Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's death, Afzal Shahin Shah installed Mustaali on the Fatimid throne and the Ismailis became divided into two groups, one accepting the Imamat of Imam Nizar, who was the eldest son of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah and the other supporting Mustaali, the second son, who also claimed the Imamat. The followers of Mustaali are known by the name of "Bohras". Only two more Bohra Imams succeeded Mustaali, and the line of Bohra Imamat came to an end with Tayyeb, who the Bohras believe went into hiding.

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18th IMAM




| |

| |


(Nizaris) (Bohras)

| |

| |


| |

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| (who the Bohras

| believe went

| into hiding)



(49th Imam)


19th Imam - (487 A.H. - 490 A.H.)

Dai Hasan bin Sabbah was told by Imam Mustansir bil-Lah that his successor would be his eldest son Nizar. This brought Hasan bin Sabbah into conflict with Badr al-Jamali, who ordered Hasan bin Sabbah's arrest; however, Hasan bin Sabbah succeeded in escaping@from the prison. He first went to Alexandria and then to Syria, from where he proceeded to Persia. From 473 A.H. to 487 A.H., he preached the Imamat of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah in Persia and Khurasan, where he was appointed as the Chief Dai.

After Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's death in 487 A.H., Dai Hasan bin Sabbah did not accept Mustaali's rule, but declared Imam Nizar as the rightful heir, thus making Persian Ismailis independent of the Fatimid Caliphate. He then began to make a Nizari state in Persia. Hasan bin Sabbah lived in a territory which was surrounded by the Saljuq power. Saljuqs were orthodox Sunnis and wanted to destroy all traces of Ismailism. In spite of their opposition, Hasan bin Sabbah succeeded in occupying Alamut, which was in the mountains of Elburz. He built strong fortresses on top of Alamut and set up Ismaili rule there.

Although in Egypt Badr al-Jamali's son had managed the succession of Mustaali to the Fatimid throne, Dai Hasan bin Sabbah continued upholding the right of Imam Nizar against the claim of Mustaali. He had been told to do so by Imam Mustansir bil-Lah himself. This meant independence from Fatimid discipline just as he was independent of the Abbasid rule.

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In his "History of the Ismailis", A.S. Picklay says, "Although Nizar was the rightful claimant to the throne after his father's death, his younger brother (Mustaali), supported by his father-in-law, the chief Vazir, usurped all the power." He further writes, "Mustaali, feeling insecure during Nizar's existence, plotted against him (Imam Nizar) and finally succeeded in making him a prisoner along with his two sons."

In Egypt, Imam Nizar continued his struggle up to 490 A.H., when he was killed. There have been some incorrect theories that Imam Nizar came to Alamut. Actually, he did not, but his son and successor, Imam Hadi, was brought to Alamut from Egypt by Abdul Hasan Saidi, a trusted Dai of Imam Nizar. Thus the Egyptian period of Ismaili Imams came to an end.

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20th Imam Mowlana al-Hadi

21st Imam Mowlana al-Muhtadi

22nd Imam Mowlana al-Qahir

23rd Imam Mowlana Ala Zikrihis-Salam

24th Imam Mowlana A'La Muhammad

25th Imam Mowlana Jalalud-din Hasan

26th Imam Mowlana Alaid-din Muhammad

27th Imam Mowlana Ruknud-din Khair Shah


20th Imam - (490 A.H. - 530 A.H.)

We have noticed Dai Hasan Bin Sabbah's conflict with Badr al-Jamali in Egypt over the question of succession to Mowlana Mustansir bil-Lah. Upon Imam Mustansir bil-Lah's death in 487 A.H., Dai Hasan bin Sabbah did not accept Mustaali's rule, but upheld the right of Mowlana Nizar as the rightful successor and thus made Persian Ismailis independent of the Fatimid Caliphate. In 483 A.H., Hasan bin Sabbah succeeded in occupying Alamut, and made a Nizari state in Persia. In Egypt, Mowlana Nizar continued his struggle until he was killed in 490 A.H. His son and successor to the Imamat, Imam Hadi, was brought to Alamut from Egypt by a trusted Dai of Imam Nizar.

Imam Hadi was about 25 years old when he came to Alamut. When Hasan bin Sabbah felt that death was approaching him, he called to Alamut an important Dai, Kiya Buzurg Ummid, from the fortress of Lamasser of which he was in charge. Hasan bin Sabbah asked Kiya Buzurg Ummid to be the Chief Dai of the Imam after him. He further introduced Imam Hadi to all who were present there and asked them to accept Imam Hadi as the rightful Imam.

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Dai Hasan bin Sabbah died in 518 A.H., after a rule marked by freedom, strength, determination and dynamism. During his lifetime, the Fatimid Caliph, Amir, son of Mustaali, wrote a pamphlet against the Imamat of Imam Nizar, but it did not do him any good. Amir was later assassinated by Nizari Fidais. Hasan bin Sabbah wrote many books, including his autobiography. However, these books do not exist today because the library at Alamut was destroyed during the time of Mongol invasion.

During the lifetime of Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid, Imam Hadi was the acknowledged Imam and the Ismailis remained united under him. Imam Hadi died in 530 A.H., at the age of 65, in the fortress of Lamasser which was his official residence. He was succeeded to the throne of Imamat at the same place by his son, Mowlana Muhtadi, who was about 45 years old at that time. Soon after, Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid died; his son Muhammad became the Chief Dai after him.

Dai Hasan bin Sabbah was born in an Ithna Ashari family of Rayy, sometime between 430 A.H., and 440 A.H. His father was a Shii theologian and gave Hasan bin Sabbah a good education in subjects like qeometry, astronomy and philosophy.

The story about Hasan bin Sabbah's being a fellow student with Nizam-ul-Mulk and Ummar Khayyam is obviously false as Nizam-ul-Mulk was at least 30 years Hasan bin Sabbah's senior and could not have studied with him.

Hasan bin Sabbah attracted the attention of an Ismaili dai. He began to seek more and more of Ismaili literature and got himself completely converted to the Ismaili faith. With the permission of Dai Abdul Malik bin Attash, who was then the chief of the Ismaili Da'wa in Iraq, Hasan bin Sabbah was admitted into the Ismaili community and movement.

Dai Hasan bin Sabbah must have heard about Nasir Khusraw and read his work, but it is doubtful whether he ever met him. Dai Abdul Malik bin Attash must have advised Hasan bin Sabbah to visit Cairo, the Seat of the Imamat. Eminent Dais from Persia had often travelled to Cairo to make their

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pilgrimage to the seat of the Imamat. In 467 A.H., Hasan bin Sabbah set out for Cairo, and after a journey through Syria, reached Cairo in 471 A.H., just after the Chief Dai al Muayyad had died. Hasan bin Sabbah was welcomed by Imam Mustansir bil-Lah who needed some support against Badr al-Jamali.

Conquest of the Fortresses:

There are many stories about the conquest of Alamut, including the one which states that by cutting a given piece of leather into thin strips and linking them into a big string, Dai Hasan bin Sabbah surrounded the fortress of Alamut with it and thus won it as a prize.

The fortress was built high up on a steep rock which was inaccessible except by a special passage which was well guarded. Because of its inaccessibility and height, it was called Alamut, which means, "an eagle's nest".

Dai Abdul Malik, who was the Dai in charge of the East, and who was responsible for sending Dai Hasan bin Sabbah to Egypt, continued to rule at the fortress called Shahdiz in the south of Persia. In fact, the Ismaili Dawat in Persia had two centres, one at Shahdiz, and the other at Alamut, until the time when Shahdiz was captured.

After the conquest of Alamut, other fortresses were conquered, namely, Gird Kuh in Rudbar territory where Dai Muzzafar was in charge, Lamasser where later Dai Kiya Buzurg was put in charge, and Maymundiz where later in the Ismaili history, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah finally surrendered to Halaku Khan, the Mongol invader.

Life in Ismaili Fortresses:

Dai Hasan bin Sabbah was a very strict ruler. It is said that he lived in the fortress of Alamut all the time. Only twice he was seen outside the fortress and twice on the roof of the fortress, but he guided the destinies of the Ismailis not only in the neighbouring fortresses but also in other Muslim lands. He had the complete information of everything that happened in the Abbasid court of the Caliph, his Sultan and his Vazir.

Ismailis in these fortresses lived a very strict life and in times of emergencies, women and children were separated from men and sent away to a particular fortress, while the men lived a very vigorous military life.

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The Name and Practice of the Assassins and the Legend of Paradise:

Owing to the difficult situation in which the Ismailis were placed, their system of self-defence took a peculiar form. When their fortresses were attacked or besieged, they were isolated like small islands in a stormy sea. They prepared their garrisons for the fight, and as a rear-guard action, sent their agents into the very heart of the Abbasid Court in order to remove certain key trouble-makers and thus weaken the entire campaign against the Ismailis. Thus originated the practice of assassination, which, as we have seen, was a necessity.

The Ismaili Fidais carried out the assassinations with full understanding, knowing very well what the result would be. They were not, as is commonly supposed by hostile writers, being doped with drugs into carrying out these assassinations under the influence of the drugs.

Marco Polo, the famous traveller, passing through the land of the Ismailis, wrote a fabricated story about the false paradise that was shown to the Ismailis as an inducement to carry out the assassinations. This story was taken up by the hostile Sunni writers and has been widely circulated, although it does not have any foundation at all.

The story goes that the Ismaili Dais doped their followers with Hashish, and when they were out of their senses, took them into an artificial paradise which was a delightful garden. Inside this garden, the Fidai was entertained with every pleasure that he could think of. Then the dais would promise him, such a life of pleasure forever if the Fidai would carry out an assassination. If he agreed, the complete plan of a particular assassination was revealed to him. He was then doped again and while still asleep, was taken out of this paradise and back to his normal life. Later, when the Fidai woke up, he would consider this incident an inspired dream, and willingly carried out the assassination with calculation and efficiency.

The very nature of this story shows a malicious and hostile attitude of its authors. It should in no way be accepted, as it derogates the high morals and character of the Ismaili Fidais of those days, who sacrificed even their lives for the sake of their Imam.

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In this story, the word "Hashish" stands out as the source of the name "Assassins" given to the Nizari Ismailis. The Ismailis were called "Hashashin" (the users of Hashish) by the Crusaders; this word was later corrupted into "assassin". Since Ismailis practised political murders at that time, their act was called by their name - "Assassination". Professor Jawad's theory is that the word "Assassin" was applied to the Ismailis because of their belief in "Asas", that is the Imam.

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21st Imam - (530 A.H. - 552 A.H.)

In 530 A.H., Imam Hadi died at the fortress of Lamasser. His son Imam Muhtadi succeeded him. Imam Muhtadi was about 45 years old at that time. He had a grownup son, Qahir, about 25 years of age, and a grandson Hasan (Ala-Zikrihis-Salam), approximately 5 years old.

Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid died in 532 A.H., during the lifetime of Imam Muhtadi, and was followed in Da'wa by his son Muhammad.

The political events of this period will be discussed later. Imam Muhtadi did not live long and was followed to the throne of Imamat by his son, Imam Qahir, during whose time Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg was the Dai.

Dai Kiya Buzurg Ummid:

The early life of Dai Kiya Buzurg is not known except that for a long time he remained an Ismaili Dai under Hasan bin Sabbah. He was in charge of the fortress of Lamasser. After Hasan bin Sabbah's death, he was called from Lamasser and put in charge of the entire Ismaili Da'wa in the East.

Only two years after Hasan bin Sabbah's death, the Saljuq Sultan Sanjar, attacked Alamut, probably with the intention of judging the strength of Hasan bin Sabbah's successor. However, he was defeated, and the story goes that once when he got up from his sleep, he found a dagger thrust into his bed, with a note attached to it, saying that if he persisted in his hostility towards the Ismailis, he would find the dagger thrust into his heart. Perhaps because of this, his attitude towards Ismailis became neutral and he maintained very good relationship with the Ismaili Dai.

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22nd Imam - (552 A.H. - 557 A.H.)

Imam Muhtadi did not live long and was followed by his son, Qahir, as the Imam. When Imam Qahir died in 557 A.H., Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg had already died. The next Imam, Mowlana Ala Zikrihis-Salaam, took the reigns of the Imamat in his hands and directed the day to day affairs of the Da'wa himself, as well.

Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg's Activities:

As the Sunni harassment increased, the Ismailis effectively adopted the policy of assassination. The Abbasid Caliph Rashid was assassinated, so were three Qadis and some military men. The Afghan ruler gave protection to Ismaili Dais in his territory, but his son got them all killed.

In Daylam, the Ismailis occupied a fortress which they named Mubarak Kuh (the Mount of Blessings) and near Qazwin, a fortress, which they named Jahan Gushay(World Conqueror). Although these were small achievements, the names of these fortresses instilled hope into the hearts of the Ismailis of those times


23rd Imam - (557 A.H. -561 A.H.)

Early Life:

Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam succeeded his father Imam Qahir in 557 A.H. Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg had died a little earlier and the administration of the Da'wa as well as the running of the Fortress Empire of the Ismailis were taken over by Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam into his own hands.

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It is said that Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam was the son of Dai Muhammad bin Kiya Buzurg. This is the Sunni version of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam's succession. However, the Ismaili sources and tradition hold this as incorrect and maintain the continuity of Imamat fro-n Imam Nizar to Imam Hadi, Imam Muhtadi, Imam Qahir and through Imam Qahir to Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam.

When Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam became the Imam in 557 A.H., he was 32 years old. He opened a new era in the history and the doctrines of the Ismailis.

Kura Kiya:

In 558 A.H., Ismailis built a fortress outside the city of Qazwin, which commanded influence over the city. Its people began to call Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam, Kura Kiya, i.e. the town-lord. The Quhistani Ismailis also became active, but on the whole the policy of the Ismailis was now of peace with the surrounding Sunni areas.

Death of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam

There was a group of Ismailis led by the brother-in-law of the Imam, namely, Husayni Namawar. They were opposed to the new Qiyama policy and were in favour of the restoration of Sharia. Husayni conspired against the Imam and succeeded in poisoning him. After a short rule of five years, Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam died in 561 A.H.

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24th Imam - (561 A.H. - 607 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Ala Muhammad succeeded his father to the throne of Imamat at the age of 19, and with

youthful enthusiasm, put down the opposition of Husayni Namawar. He vigorously propagated

the theory of Qiyama. He insisted on the doctrine that God was present in the form of the Imam.

He propagated his genealogy through Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam, Imam Qahir, Imam Muhtadi,

Imam Hadi and Imam Nizar, so that if there were any doubts in the minds of the people because

of the enemy propaganda, they may be removed.

Fakhud-Din ar-Razi

There is one story about the famous scientist and philosopher Fakhud-Din ar-Razi, that when he went too far in opposing the Ismaili doctrines and talking against Imam Ala Muhammad, an Ismaili Fidai, at the point of a dagger, made ar-Razi promise that in the future, he would not speak against the Imam. Fakhud-Din ar-Razi not only promised this, but also kept his promise.

Important Events:

It was about this time that the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt was overthrown by Salahudin-al-Ayyubi (Saladin), and Rashidud-Din-Sinan, an Ismaili Dai, began his famous career in Syria.

Sultan Sanjar had died and the Khwarazm Shahs were replacing the Saljuqs in their Empire.

The Abbasid Caliphate had been divided into various states and the Caliph's rule did not extend beyond his palace.

Imam Ala Muhammad died in 607 A.H., after a long rule of 47 years.

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Dai Rashid-ud-din-Sinan:

The name of Rashid-ud-din Sinan in the Da'wa affairs of Syria is as great as that of Hasan bin Sabbah in Alamut.

He was born and brought up in Iraq in a Shii family. Because of a family quarrel, he came to Alamut, studied Ismailism, and became a friend of Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam before his

succession. Sinan was later sent to Syria by Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam.

The group of Ismaili fortresses in the Mount Bahra area were under the charge of Dai Abu Muhammad, and after his death, they came under the administration of Sinan.

Sinan was occupied in constructing and reconstructing the fortresses. He was always moving from fortress to fortress without any bodyguard or personal troops. He worked without a government and was constantly clashing with and defeating the Franks, the Sunnis and the Nusayri invaders. His influence spread even in the Jazr district of Syria besides Mount Bahra. (Mount Bahra is now called "the NusayriMountains".)

An Ismaili author relates many anecdotes which show the kind and amiable nature of Sinan, and the confidence and love that he inspired into his people. Many stories have been woven around his personality, and sometimes in their love for him, his people went as far as identifying him with the Imam.

Sinan was appointed by Imam Ala-Zikrihis-Salam and hence remained within the discipline of Alamut. However, he freely decided how to apply the policies of Alamut to his own territory, in his own way.

Sinan changed the status of women; they worked and fought unveiled, side by side with the men.

Sinan died during the lifetime of Imam Ala Muhammad. His people remained loyal to the Imam at Alamut. After the death of Imam Ala Muhammad in 607 A.H., the restoration of Sharia created new problems both in Alamut and in Syria.

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25th Imam - (607 A.H. - 618 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Jalalud-Din Hasan was born in Alamut in the lifetime of his grandfather, Imam Ala Zikrihis-Salam. When he succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 607 A.H., he was a grown-up man, who was fully aware of the conflicts of opinion that raged during the last few years of his father, Imam Ala Muhammad's Imamat. The policy of Qiyama which was practised for almost 48 years, had created anti-forces, and there was the danger of the community being split up into two groups. Therefore, taking into consideration the changing mood of his people, Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan very wisely restored the Sharia policy. Because of his new policy, Imam Jalalud-din Hasan became known as "Nau Musalman".

This shows that more emphasis was laid on good relationship with the surrounding Sunni world, as a matter of political policy.

Pilgrimage to Mecca:

As the first step to normalize his relations with the Sunni world, Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan sent his another on a pilgrimage to Mecca as a member of the Abbasid Iraqi delegation. This meant his recognition by the rulers of Baghdad and Mecca. The Syrian delegation tried to oppose the Ismaili Association with the orthodox pilgrimage (Hajj) but the Ayyubid princess of Egypt intervened and got this Association endorsed. Thus the Imam received recognition from Egypt and Syria as well. Moreover, Imam's mother contributed generously to charity and had many wells dug, thus proving the constructive nature of the Ismaili mission.

The Qazwini People of Alamut:

The Qazwini people of Alamut still remained unconvinced of the truth of Qiyama policy. Therefore, Imam invited their scholars to visit the library of Alamut and to burn all such books if they were found to contain unorthodox material.

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Persia and Syria:

The Ismailis of Persia and Syria appreciated the difficulties and problems of this situation and gave their Imam their unflinching loyalty in his new policy, just as they had given their firm loyalty to the previous Imams in their old policy. Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan made a tour of Quhistan, Rudbar and Syria and returned with great success. In all the towns, he ordered the building of mosques and public baths.

In Syria, the new policy brought this advantage to the Ismailis that the surrounding Sunni threat was transformed into a joint front against the Franks. In Persia, the Ismailis tried to cultivate good relationship with the rising power of Khwarazms, but they were jealous of Ismailis' good relationship with the Abbasid Caliph Nasser. On Caliph's suggestion, Imam married the daughter of Amir of Khutam of ancient Iranian descent. She became the mother of the next Imam, Mowlana Alaid-Din Muhammad. The Imam also married other noble women from the Gilan nobility.

Death of Imam Jalalud-Din Hasan:

After ten years of active rules Imam Jalalud-din Hasan died of dysentery at Alamut in 618 A.H. His vazir accused Imam's wives of poisoning the Imam, but this remains uncertain.


26th Imam - (618 A.H. - 653 A.H.)

Early Life:

Mowlana Alaid-din Muhammad was born in 608 A.H., and succeeded to the throne of Imamat in 61 8 A.H., at the age of ten years. His mother was a princess, the daughter of Amir of Khutam, of ancient Iranian descent. Imam Jalalud-din Hasan married her at the suggestion of the Abbasid Caliph Nasser.

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The Sharia Policy:

Imam Alaid-din Muhammad continued the Sharia policy of his father for about ten years. However, he noticed a change taking place in the aspirations of his people, as well as in the general political situation, and therefore, in accordance with the altered circumstances, he decided to change the nature of the Ismaili attitude towards Sharia.

The Ismailis, the Khwarazmians and the Mongols:

The Ismaili conflict with the Khwarazmians continued. In the meantime,the Ismailis started their negotiations with the Mongols. Imam sent Badr ad-Din Ahmed as his ambassador to the Mongol court, but nothing much came out of it. The Ismailis then approached the Crusaders for a joint front against the Mongols, but this did not succeed either, as the Christians were, at that time, wooing Mongols.

Pir Satgur Noor

Pir satgur Noor had already started work of conversion in India and on the Gujarat coast, the Nizari Ismailis were entering into healthy competition with the Tayyabi Ismailis in converting the local Hindu commercial communities to Ismailism. It is interesting to note that there were many Indian lsmailis serving at the court of the Imam at Alamut.

Later Life of Imam Alaid-din Muhammad:

Although Imam had started his rule very early, he did not make any changes until he was about 20 years old, and it is wrong on the part of Sunni authors to imagine that his activities stemmed from firstly the immaturity and secondly from the perversity of character. On the contrary, the Imam showed great wisdom in his attitude towards both Sharia and Qiyama, in accordance with the exact needs of his people and the changing times.

Imam Alaid-din Muhammad displayed great appreciation for learning. At his Court, he patronized many Sunni scholars and scientists, like Tusi. One Hasan Mazandarani, also a Sunni, was his favourite companion and advisor, who later treacherously murdered the Imam.

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Death of Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad:

Hasan Mazandarani was a refugee from the Mongols. Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad treated him very kindly. He, however, turned away from the Imam either because of his Sunni faith or because of some personal reasons, and he eventually carried out the murder of the Imam in 653 A.H.

Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad had appointed his son Ruknud-Din as his successor, but the Sunni writers say that he intended to change this appointment in favour of another son because of a disagreement between him (the Imam) and his son, Ruknud-Din. However, such stories do not seem to be true because the Sunni authors have always tried to show a conflict between practically every Imam and his successor; they have done this so often that their malicious intentions have become evident.


27th Imam - (653 A.H. - 654 A.H.)

Early Life:

Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah succeeded to the Imamat in 653 A.H. He apprehended his father's killer, Hasan Mazandarani and sentenced him to death.

Mongol Invasion:

Mangu Khan was the chief of the Mongols. He decided to invade China himself and assigned his brother, Halaku Khan to invade the Middle East.

Halaku Khan began his march in 650 A.H. (1252 A.D.). Three years later, he entered Iran. All the petty princes hastened to be on his right side by voluntarily entering into his service and begging his mercy and favour. Ismailis were the first ones to stand up to him and they were the first victims of his invasion.

On his succession, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah began negotiating with the Mongols for an honourable surrender. He wrote to Yasur, the Mongol commander of Hamadan, offering his submission, but he was asked to go personally to the constantly shifting court of Halaku, who was coming towards Rudbar. The Imam did not go himself, but sent his younger brother Shahin Shah. Halaku agreed to stop Yasur's attacks, but he demanded that the Ismaili fortresses should be demolished and that the Imam should come to his (Halaku's) court immediately. The Imam, however, asked for a year's grace, hoping that Alamut and Lamasser would be saved from destruction. He, however, gave orders for the demolition of many of Rudbar's fortresses.

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The Imam then sent his vazir Shams ad-Din Gilaki to Halaku on his behalf. Halaku directed Shams to go to Gird Kuh to secure his submission. The Ismaili chief of Gird Kuh submitted and came to Halaku's court, which was now at Rayy. Nevertheless, the fortress, even without its leader, continued to resist, for such was the heroic spirit of the Ismailis. It is interesting to note that Gird Kuh was the very last fortress to fall, and that too, much later.

As demanded by Halaku, the Imam sent his five year old son to Halaku's court, but the Mongol commander sent him back as he was too young. The Imam then sent another of his brothers, Shiran Shah, to Halaku, who was now only three days march away from Rudbar. Halaku had the Ismaili chieftain of Gird Kuh secretly slaughtered, and he sent Shiran Shah back with an ultimatum to the Imam to destroy the fortress of Maymundiz in which he was residing, to surrender himself unconditionally and to report to the Mongol commander immediately.

Even as the Imam was considering Halaku's ultimatum, Halaku arrived at the foot of the fortress and sent another ultimatum to the Imam to surrender within five days, or to face war. The Imam hesitated to surrender, but his Sunni advisors and the hypocrite scholar Nasir-ad-Din Tusi advised and urged Imam to surrender. The Imam went out in their company to the camp of Halaku. These ungrateful courtiers of the Imam, including Tusi, lost no time in disassociating themselves from the service of the Imam and in giving up their loyalty to the Ismaili dynasty. As soon as they were in Halaku's camp, they hastened to offer their services to the Mongols.

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A few courageous and faithful Ismailis continued to resist and hold out in the fortress the same way as their brethern had done at Gird Kuh; the Mongols could only occupy the fortress over their dead bodies.

Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah Among the Mongols:

Once the Imam was in their power, the Mongols made the Imam order all the Ismaili fortresses to surrender. Many fortresses in Rudbar, in Quhistan and around Gird Kuh in Qumis surrendered, numbering 100 in all. These places were all evacuated and destroyed. But the Ismailis in Rudbar, in Alamut and in Lamasser refused to surrender, even at the Imam's personal appeal. After occupying and demolishing Alamut, Halaku proceeded to besiege Lamasser, which held out for one more year. Halaku, at this time, was occupied with celebrations at Qazwin. He gave Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah a Mongol girl in marriage and presented the Imam with 100 camels. He made the Imam write to the Syrian fortress to surrender to the Mongols, and took the Imam with him on his march to invade Baghdad.

The Imam, however, decided to go to the court of the Great Mangu Khan in Mongolia. While on his way, he again sent a word to Gird Kuh to surrender, for it had not done so yet. Mangu Khan received the Imam with respect, but did not set him free because he argued that the fortresses of Gird Kuh and Lamasser had not yet surrendered to the Mongols. Soon after, Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah was murdered by the Mongol guards, presumably by the order of Mangu Khan and in consultation with the Sunni advisors.

Fall of Gird Kuh and Lamasser:

Massacre of the Ismailis:

After about a year of resistance, the garrisons of Gird Kuh and Lamasser were finally overwhelmed by the Mongols Thousands of Ismaili men were massacred and many women and children were sold into slavery. The Mongol commander is said to have rounded up about 80 thousand Ismailis in Quhistan on the pretext of a general meeting, and massacred them. Orders were given to have the entire family of Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, including the babies, slaughtered.

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The Syrian Ismailis did not surrender even with the fall of Alamut. They formed heroic alliance with the Mamelukes of Egypt and resisted the Mongol invasion.

Ivanow thinks that within two generations after Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, there was a split among the Nizari Ismailis; the Syrian Ismailis following a different line of Imams from that of the Iranian Ismailis. Whether this is correct or not ,the fact remains that the Syrian Ismailis remained politically independent of their Iranian brothers and continued to maintain the traditions of Rashid-ud-Din Sinan for whom they built a shrine. Today, the Syrian Ismailis are fully integrated into the traditions of the Iranian Nizari Ismailis.


Ismailism continued in Iran although deprived of its great strongholds. Rudbar and Quhistan had large Ismaili populations and Sunni missionaries found it extremely difficult to convert them.

Hasan bin Sabbah's tomb at Alamut was visited by the Ismailis without any fear. After its fall, Alamut was reconquered by the Ismailis, but after a short period of time, it was again taken by the Mongol chief, Aqba.

Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah had a young son, Shamsud-Din Muhammad, who had been secretly sent away to Adharbayjan for safety. He became the next Imam and with him the great Satr (concealment) period of Persia begins. He and his successors remained in hiding, but continued to give the leadership to the Ismaili community. The poet, Khaki Khurasani, who lived during Imam Shamsud-Din's life, wrote devotedly about his Imamat. The remainder of the Nizari Ismaili history falls into the post Alamut, Persian and Indian periods.

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28th Imam - (654 A.H. - 710 A.H.)

The destruction of the Ismaili fortress at Alamut, together with the efforts of the Mongols to completely destroy the followers of the Ismaili sect, greatly crippled the Ismaili movement, and for a long time it was believed that the Ismaili sect had been destroyed, and that the families of the Imams had been wiped out too. But history has shown us that the sect was not destroyed. Many Ismailis in Persia were saved by Taqiya (disguise) and other means; many others fled to Afghanistan, to the Himalayas and to Sind.

Ismaili tradition says that Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah, the last of the Imams at Alamut, sensing danger for his family and for the Ismaili community at Alamut, sent his son, Shamsud-Din Muhammad, then a boy of seven years, to a place of safety with his uncle. It is known from the Persian poet Nizari Quhistan that Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad and Imam Qasim Shah lived in Adharbayjan, and the vicinity of Adharbayjan seems to have been the centre of Imamat for about two centuries.

Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad lived as a Zardoz (an embroider) for the purpose of Taqiya (concealment) and was commonly known as Muhammad Zardoz. Referring to the Imam, whom he knew, Nizari Quhistan wrote:








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29th Imam - (710 A.H. - 771 A.H.)

Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad was followed by his son Imam Qasim Shah to the throne of Imamat. Both the Imams contributed a great deal to the reorganization of the Ismaili Da'wa and a number of Dais were sent out of Iran. One of these was Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari.

Pir Shams:

Pir Shamsud-Din Subzwari traced his descent to Imam Ismail through Sayyed Hashamali who had gone to Cairo from Yemen. Hashamali's mother was Khairun-Nissa, who also traced her genealogy to Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq. It was Hashamali who was entrusted to accompany Imam Hadi, son of Imam Nizar from Cairo to Alamut. A strong group of these Ismaili Sayyeds moved from Cairo to Sabzwar in Iran and Pir Shams was froin that colony.

Pir Shams was asked by Mowlana Qasim Shah to carry out the Ismaili Da'wa in countries beyond the boundaries of Iran. Before starting the mission entrusted to him, Pir Shams presented himself in the holy presence of Imam Qasim Shah, kissed Imam's hand and received his blessings. When he reached Badakshan, a large number of people came to see him and after being convinced, they accepted the Ismaili faith and swore allegiance to Imam Qasim Shah.

Pir Shams then left Badakshan for Tibet, where he stayed for a few days to carry out his mission. He then proceeded to Kashmir by way of Hindu Kush, passing through Ghazna, Chinab and Analnagri. Throughout his journeys, Pir Shams remained steadfast in his faith, although often he could not get any food for any price and had to starve. He endured all these difficulties with an unflinching heart and at last succeeded in reaching his destination. He settled in Kashmir and learnt local languages so that he could preach to the people in their own tongue.

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Shams Tabriz:

Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari has been confused with Shams Tabriz. Shams Tabriz was the "Spiritual Master" of Mowlana Jalalud-Din Rumi, the great mystic poet of Iran. Rumi wrote a book of poems in honour of his master, entitled "Diwan of Shams Tabriz" which has been translated by R.A. Nicholson. Shams Tabriz,. was the son of Imam Alaid-Din Muhammad of Alamut; he left the fortress before its destruction, even before Imam Shamsud-Din Muhammad, the son of Imam Ruknud-Din Khair Shah had left. He also attained recognition as a Saint, but, he did not go to India.


30th Imam



31st Imam

Imam Islam Shah, son of Imam Qasim Shah succeeded his father to the Imamat. It was during the period of his Imamat that Tamarlane, the Tartar, conducted a campaign through Persia during which he, without doubt, massacred many Ismailis.

Ismaili tradition informs us that Imam Islam Shah resided at Shahri Babak and later at Kahak. It seems that the Ismaili Imams maintained their connection with Adharbayjan until a much later date; however, it is highly probable that Imam Islam Shah found it necessary to shift his residence during Tamarlane's purge of the Ismailis.

Imam Islam Shah sent Pir Sadrud-Din (known as Pir Sadardin in Indo-Pak), to India. Pir Sadrud-Din had been trained under Pir Shamsud-Din Sabzwari and assumed charge of the communities in Kashmir, Sind and Punjab. Because of his teaching, there are thousands of Ismaili Muslims today in India, Pakistan, Burma and Africa.

Imam Muhammad bin Islam Shah also maintained the growing Ismaili community in India under Pir Sadrud-din.

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32nd Imam



44th Imam

Ismailis in Persia passed through a long period of unexpected calamity and continuous persecution in the form of the Mongol invasion and mass killings by Tamarlane. Therefore, for many years, Isrnailis had to live under strictest secrecy in Persia. Anjudan, and later Kahak came to be known as the residences of the Imams. However, Ismailism continued to grow in the sub-continent of India during Imamat of Mowlana Mustansir-bi-Lah II, Mowlana Abdas-Salaam and Mowlana Ghareeb Mirza.

The oldest of the 3 mausoleums in Anjudan contains the grave of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah II. It is an octagonal building with a conical dome. It is popularly known as Shah Qalander but no reason for this can be found.

It is not known where Imam Abda-Salam's grave is. Behind an old mosque and not very far from the mausoleum of Imam Mustansir bil-Lah, there is another mausoleum known as Shah Ghareeb. Within the mausoleum, there are five graves besides the one in the centre,and others are outside.

The name of Imam Ghareeb Mirza does not appear an any one of those graves.

It would seem that the next Imams, i.e. Mowlana Abuzar Ali, Mowlana Murad Mirza, Mowlana Zulfiqar Ali, Mowlana Nurud-Din Ali, Mowlana Khalilullah Ali and Mowlana Nizar must have moved to Kahak, because near the western end of that village, is the mausoleum of Mowlana Nizar. This is within a garden, and the building has several rooms, each with several graves in the style of Sufic mausoleums in Persia. Mowlana Nizar is buried in the main chamber which is dome-shaped.

An interesting fact to be noted here is that some of the graves, apparently of those of the servants of the Imams, bear Khojki inscriptions; these could presumably be the graves of the Indian followers of the Imam.

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In the gardens belonging to the house of the Imam, there is a stone platform raised on stone legs like a table and set in a depression. Local inhabitants say that Imam Nizar used to sit upon this platform, which when the depression was filled with water, formed an island, where he used to receive his guests, who were seated amidst flower-beds around the water.

The unsettled political condition which marked the next century, is reflected in the very fact that we do not have much information about the Imams of this period. Indeed we know almost nothing of the activities of Mowlana Sayyed Ali, Mowlana Hasan Ali and Mowlana Qasim Ali.

Our 44th Imam, Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali was for some time the governor of Kirman under the Zend kings. It is thought by some that Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali accompanied Nadir Shah to India at the time of his invasion in 1738 A.D. The Imam retired from his position at kirman and resided in Muhallat. Indian tradition places his death in around 1194 A.H.(1780 A.D.)

Imam Abul Hasan Ali is said to be buried in the mausoleum of the famous Sufi, Mushtak Ali. The grave, which is said to be of Imam Abul Hasan Ali's, is covered with a greenish coloured slab, with no inscription. A little distance from his tomb, there is another mausoleum, octagonal in shape. The inscription on this seems to record the burial of a daughter of the Imam. Other graves are also there, but their condition makes it impossible to identify them. W. Ivanow thinks that it is possible that some of the Imams were buried at Najaf, for it was a recognized custom at that time.

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45th Imam - (1730 A.D. - 1817 A.D.)

After his death, Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali was succeeded by his son, Mowlana Khalilullah Ali, who was also known as Sayyed Kahaki, because he had established his residence at

Kahak near Muhallat. His position as the Spiritual head of the Ismailis was recognized by the Persian sovereign, Fateh Ali Shah. Mowlana Khalilullah Ali was greatly revered by his followers. Ismailis from India as well as from other countries used to make pilgrimages to Kahak to pay tribute to their Imam and to receive Imam's benedictions. The praise of the Imam has been given in Kalami Pir as follows:

"One who riseth by the Command of God,

The River (Qayyer) of the present time and eternity, The Source of Generosity and Mercy, our Master, Our Lord, one who knows the Mysteries of what is Open and what is Hidden. Our Lord Shah Khalilullah Ali Prostration and Glorification be due at His mention."

Mowlana Khalilullah Ali took up a temporary residence at Yezd. In 1817, Imam and a number of his followers were killed by a mob, provoked by a mullah who was jealous of Imam's popularity.

Mowlana Khalilullah Ali was buried at Najaf. His murder terrified the ruler, Fateh Ali Shah, who ad ' ministered severe punishment to the ones who were guilty of this crime; the mullah was cast naked into a freezing pond and beaten with thorny stick.

The young son of the Imam, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali Shah, was richly rewarded by Fateh Ali Shah, who gave him the districts of Kum and Muhallat, in addition to Imam's inherited estate. Fateh Ali Shah also recognized Shah Hasan Ali Shah as the head of the Ismailis and gave him the title of Aga Khan. Later, he gave the Imam one of his daughters, Sarv-e-Jahan, in marriage.

The young Prince, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, governed well. Fortune smiled upon him as long as Fateh Ali Shah lived, but upon Fateh Ali Shah's death in 1834, a civil war broke out and the Royal Princes got into a dispute as to who should be

the successor to the Royal throne. This changed the situation of the Ismailis in Persia and the Persian Period of Nizari Ismaili Imams came to an end.

......Photos of 46th, 47th and 48th Imam.

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46th Imam - (1817 A.D. - 1881 A.D.)

While Fateh Ali Shah lived, Persia granted Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali a friendly centre for his activities. During his lifetime Fateh Ali Shah has designated his grandson, Muhammad Shah, as his successor. But upon Fateh Ali Shah's death, two parties were formed at the Court, one supporting Fateh Ali Shah's eldest son and the other, the deceased Shah's nominee, Muhammad Shah. Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali supported the Prince whom Fateh Ali Shah had nominated, and it was mainly by the strength of Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali's army and military genius that Muhammad Shah came to the throne. In the government which Muhammad Shah formed, the Imam was given the position of Commander-in-Chief of the army.

For some years, things went well. But in approximately 1838 A.D., friction developed between the Imam and the Prime Minister Mirza Aghashi, who took every opportunity to discredit the Imam in the eyes of the king. He also deliberately insulted the Imam by asking the hand of Imam's daughter in marriage for a low-bred person. The Imam not only gave a sharp refusal to this request but, upon further inappropriate demands by the Prime Minister, raised a revolt in Kirman. A truce was made, but the Prime Minister broke his promise and had the Imam arrested. However, the Imam was released by Muhammad Shah; but as the pressure continued, the Imam renewed his rebellion. Soon after, he left for Sind, via Afghanistan. There he was enthusiastically welcomed by the Talpur Amirs of Sind, who had long been Imam's zealous supporters.

Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, the First Aga Khan, came to India in 1840. Upon arriving in Sind, the Imam placed himself and his followers in the hands of the British. Sir Charles Napier who was the Governor General in Sind, wrote this in 1844 A.D., "The old Persian Prince (Aga Khan) is my great crony (old companion); living not under my care, but paid by me 2,000 sterling a year. He is a god, his income immense...... He is clever, a brave man. I speak truly when saying that his followers do not refuse him anything he asks...... He could kill me if he pleased. He only has to say the word and one of his people can do the job in a twinkling of an eye and go straight to heaven for the same."

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The services rendered by Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali in Sind also proved his staunch attachment to the British cause. For these services, rendered at personal risk and danger, he was awarded the hereditary title of "His Highness" by the British.

Imam had lost huge properties in the land of his birth owing to the treachery of the Persian Prime Minister, Mirza Aghashi. At the time he was compelled to leave Persia, it was his intention to secure aid in Afghanistan or India and return to his country to demand what rightfully belonged tohim. He did make an effort to re-establish himself in Persia,but the opposition was too strong for him to do this.

He then gave up the idea and went to live in Bombay. There again, the Persian influence was strong enough to make him move to Calcutta, from where he returned to Bombay after the death of the Persian ruler, Muhammad Shah. Except for a brief period at Bangalore, his headquarters or Darkhana remained in Bombay.

Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali spent the last years of his life in the peaceful enjoyment of his large income and hereditary honours at Poona, Bombay and Bangalore. He devoted the last 30 years of his life to the upliftment of the Ismaili community in India. One of his great passions in life was horses. He had in his stables some of the best breeds of Arabian horses. His fondness for horses made him one of the prominent supporters of the turf. There are many cups won by him on the racecourses which are still preserved in the family.

The Duke of Edinburgh and King Edward VII, who was Prince of Wales at that time, visited Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali at his residence during their visit to India. It was an honour which, with the exception of the leading ruling princes, was accorded to no other nobleman; this was an acknowledgement of Imam's princely birth and of the great and loyal services he had rendered to the British government.

Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali died in April 1881 A.D., leaving three sons -Aga Ali Shah, who succeeded him to the Imamat, Aga Jangi Shah and Aga Akbar Shah. Before Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali's death there was reconciliation between him and the ruling family in Persia. The last resting place of this great Persian nobleman, warrior, statesman, sportsman and Spiritual Leader, is at Mazagon in Bombay. This place is called Hasanabad after the Imam, where Ismailis have erected a mausoleum, visited to this day, by thousands of Ismailis.

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Among the followers of Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, there were a handful of people who refused to acknowledge him as their Spiritual Leader. They tried to withhold from him the properties dedicated to him by his pious and devout followers. These "seceders" argued that Pir Sadruddin who was responsible for converting Hindus into Khojas, was a Muslim of Sunni persuasion and, therefore, the Khojas converted by him and the descendants of the converts, could not be considered Shia Imami Ismailis. The argument which started with religious dues and properties held in trust for the Spiritual Head of the community, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, had its trial in the Bombay High Court before Sir Joseph Arnould in April and June 1866 A.D. This trial is popularly known as the "Khoja Case" or "Aga Khan Case".

Sir Joseph Arnould, the Chief Judge, tried the case; the best advocates available were briefed on both sides. Neither the plaintiffs, nor the defendants spared any expense in obtaining evidence, which was valuable from the viewpoints of the historian, the research scholar, the theologian and the student of philosophy. Sir Joseph had indeed a difficult task examining the evidence. The result was a lengthy and well argued judgement, which decided, once and for all, that the Khoja community "is a sect of people whose ancestors were Hindu in origin, which was converted to, and has throughout abided in, the fait;li of the Shia Imami Ismailis, which has always been and still is bound by ties of spiritual allegiance to the hereditary Imams of Ismailis".

As a result of this judgement, the rights of Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali as the Spiritual Head of the Shia Imami Ismailis were firmly and legally established.

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47th Imam - (1881 A.D. - 1885 A.D.)

Mowlana Shah Ali Shah was in Karbala with his mother, the Persian Princess, when Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, his father was forced to leave Persia. Born and raised in Persia, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah developed a liking for hunting. From his noble father, he had inherited a daring spirit and love for adventure.

Mowlana Shah Ali Shah was married to Marium Sultan, the daughter of an Iraqi tribal chief and had two sons by her, Badin Shah and Noor Shah. When Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali took up permanent residence in India, he sent for his son, Shah Ali Shah, and his family. After coming to India, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah lost his wife. He married the daughter of a Shirazi family and settled in Bombay. After the death of his second wife, he married Nawab A'lia Shamsul-Muluk, a grand-daughter of Fateh Ali Shah and the daughter of Nizamud-dowlah, a noted Persian scholar, philosopher, diplomat and statesman, who was Prime Minister to Fateh Ali Shah. After their marriage, they lived in Baghdad for some time and then moved to Karachi, where their son Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was born.

Mowlana Ali Shah's two sons by his first wife died in Mowlana Shah Ali Shah's lifetime. The eldest son died at the age of 33. He was greatly loved by the Khoja community and respected by others as well. It was this Prince, Pir Shahbudin Shah Al-Husayni, who wrote the treatise, "Risala dar Haqiqati Din" (The True Meaning of Religion).

The younger son, aged 30, who was a good sportsman, fell from his horse one day and sustained serious injuries which proved fatal. These two deaths, coming one after the other, grieved Mowlana Shah Ali Shah to such an extent that he died nine months later. He died in Poona in 1885 A.D., after a brief Imamat of four years. When he died, his successor to the Imamat, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was not even eight years of age.


Under Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali's guidance, and the tutorship of learned and pious Mullahs, who were specially brought from Persia and Arabia, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah had received a perfect training. He was so intelligent and quick at learning, that within a short period of time, he had mastered the oriental languages.

During the lifetime of his father, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah had earned the respect as a Pir (Spiritual Man). However, his interests were not confined to religion only. He was the President of the Muhammadan National Association until his death, and rendered valuable service to the Muslim community. He was also, for some time, a member of the Bombay Council for Making Laws and Regulations.

With regards to his followers, he spared nothing to raise them socially; he freely helped the destitute Khojas and opened a school for Khoja children in Bombay.

Mowlana Shah Ali Shah was a splendid sportsman and a skilful rider. He had an adventurous spirit; when he went hunting, he never made use of shelters in trees but always shot the tigers standing on the ground, with a sure and steady aim. He had bagged no less than 40 tigers in this way.

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Lady Ali Shah, whose maiden name was Nawab A'lia Shamsul-Muluk, was the daughter of Nizamud-dowlah, the Prime Minister to Fateh Ali Shah, the greatest of Persian Monarchs of Kajjar dynasty. The mother of Lady Ali Shah, Kurshid Kulah, was the daughter of King Fateh Ali Shah by one of his queens, named Tajud-dowlah. Lady Ali Shah was thus related to the Persian Royal Family through her mother.

Nawab A'lia Shamsul-Muluk was married at Kirman to Mowlana Shah Ali Shah in 1867 A.D. She was 24 years old at that time. Later, she came to India with her husband and while living in Karachi, gave birth to His Highness Sultan Muhammad Shah at "Honeymoon Lodge", a charming residence on top of a hillock.

Eight years after this happy event, on August 17, 1885, Lady Ali Shah was stricken with grief at the death of her dear husband, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah. However, she submitted herself to the divine will and devoted her life to the

education and upbringing of her young son, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, who had inherited vast fortune and heavy responsibilities.

When Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was hardly 19 years old, public life claimed his attention. His inborn virtues and talents, fostered by careful training, impressed all those who came into contact with him. Before long, he became the accepted leader of a vast majority of people, and his life became one of constant travelling.

In 1896, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah went to England for the first time. After that, his association with Western Europe increased and he continued to remain away from India for longer periods of time. Lady Ali Shah, as a mother, felt the pangs of this separation and once said to her son, "Death is inevitable, but if it comes to me in your absence, it will be unendurable." Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah's reply was a remarkable one. "Do not worry", he said, "You will breathe your last with your head on my lap." The words were to prove prophetic decades after they were uttered.

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Lady Ali Shah was a brave woman and a born leader. When her son had to remain in Europe for long periods to work for his country, his community and the world in general, Lady Ali Shah helped the leaders of the Jamat in their administrative duties by offering her advice and guidance. Many a time she was called upon to settle problems and arguments of the Jamat, and she did so to the satisfaction of all.

She was like a loving mother to the Ismailis, who sought her guidance, inspiration and help in times of difficulty. People visited her every day, seeking her advice on important domestic, business, communal and health matters. Ismailis, not only from India, but also fron distant parts of the world, came to see her. They were looked after by Lady Ali Shah at her own expense until their affairs were settled. So keenly was she interested in the welfare of the Jamat, that whenever anyone connected with the Jamat came to visit her, her first inquiry invariably was, "How is the Jamat?" Good news of the Jamat made her happy; bad news pained her.

Lady Ali Shah had a dynamic personality. She was intensely pious and spent most of her time in prayer, or in discussions of holy matters. Although belonging to the older generation and to the old school of thought, she was liberal in her views and adaptive in her ways. In 1896, when the plague broke out in Bombay, and the orthodox public opinion was opposed to the inoculation, she allowed her only son, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, to be injected with the antiplague serum, as an example to the others, thus breaking down the barriers of public antipathy towards medical reforms.

In 1932, she visited England. Large crowds of people came out to see "The Mother of a Great and Distinguished Man". She was given audience by His Late Majesty, King George V and Queen Mary in the Buckingham Palace. One of the coveted honours, the title of the Imperial Order of the Crown of India, was bestowed upon her.

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The end of 1937 found her weak and frail. Reports of her ill-health brought Prince and Princess Aly Khan and Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah hurrying to her bedside. Under expert medical treatment, she rallied, for a while, however, and left for Mesopotamia in January 1938. Before her departure, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah had gone to Aligarh to attend the convocation of the Muslim University. He received a rousing reception there; however, he ordered all the floral tributes offered to him to be taken immediately to his mother. Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, who had dedicated his book, "India in Transition" as a token of gratitude to his mother, again paid his mother the tribute of a grateful son.

Lady Ali Shah travelled to Basra by sea, while Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, after fulfilling his many engagements, flew to Basra by plane, and made arrangements for a comfortable landing for his mother, Lady Ali Shah. He then proceeded to Cairo. When Lady Ali Shah arrived in Baghdad, she sent a telegram to Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah. The Imam flew to Baghdad immediately. On his arrival, he found that his mother was getting worse. Two hours later, the Grand Old Lady breathed her last in the lap of her son. Lady Ali Shah was buried at Najaf, next to the tomb of her husband, Mowlana Shah Ali Shah.

.....Photo, Enthronement ceremony of Hazrat Imam Sultan Muhammed Shah



48th Imam - (1885 A.D. - 1957 A.D.)

Early Life:

The Third Aga Khan known as the Right Honourable Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, was born at Karachi on Friday, November 2, 1877 at Honeymoon Lodge.

He was only eight years of age when his father, Mowlana Ali Shah, died, leaving to him the responsibility of the Imamat. He owed much to the training he received from his capable mother, Lady Ali Shah. His uncle, Aga Jangi Shah, acted as his guardian, but it was his mother who helped the most to shape his character and to develop his education. It was a pleasure for Lady Ali Shah to see the son towards whose development she had contributed so much, rise in honours not just within his own community, but throughout the world.

Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah devoted his whole life to the betterment of the Ismaili community and of the Muslim community at large.

The Multi-Sided Life:

Various biographies of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah have described the multi-sided life he lived. They write of his statesmanship which led him upwards to the Presidency of the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1937; of his love for sport that made his name known on the Racecourses of the world; of his efforts for peace between communities and between nations; of his zeal for education and his share in the establishment of the Muslim University in Aligarh; of his interest in the Muslim League; of his service to his own community, the Ismaili Khojas; and of the honours that had been conferred upon him. We will not essay so broad an account of his achievements, but briefly record his Leadership of the Ismaili community through the 72 years that he had been the Imam.

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Ithna Ashari Khojas:

Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah succeeded to the throne of Imamat while yet a child. It was some years before the Imam could assume the full responsibility. The Council did well to hold the community together. However, in 1901, while Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was abroad, a group of people withdrew from the Jamat, erected their own mosque and made their separate burial ground in Bombay which they called Aram Bagh. They announced the fact of their separation in the newspapers and became known as Ithna Ashari Khojas. On the day of Imam's return to Bombay, some of his followers attacked and killed one of the trustees of the new mosque and wounded another. Representatives of the seceding group placed their case before Lord Northcote, the then Governor of Bombay. The Imam called his followers together and severely condemned their violent conduct.

Haji Bibi Case:

Haji Bibi, a widow of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah's cousin, along with 13 other persons, filed a case against the Imam, demanding a share of his property and income. Various leaders of the community, including Mukhi and Kamadia, gave evidence in favour of the Imam. The case lasted several months and at last the wise and learned judge, Justice Russell, gave the following judgement: "Whatever offerings are made to His Highness the Aga Khan by his followers in the form of religious dues or gifts, belong to His Highness the Aga Khan. He is the sole master of such income, as well as of all the properties of the community. I have found enough proof which has convinced me to give this judgement. I declare the case in favour of the defendant, ordering the plaintiffs to pay all the expenses of the case."

The Jubilees:

The Ismailis have had three special opportunities to manifest their love for their Imam; first at his Golden Jubilee, then at his Diamond Jubilee, and lastly at his Platinum Jubilee. On the first occasion, he was weighed against gold in Bombay, and later in Nairobi. Ismailis pride themselves over the fact that although weighing a person against gold is not something new, Sultan Muhammad Shah was the first person to have been weighed twice in this way. They take more pride in the knowledge that never before had anybody been weighed against diamonds, or platinum.

....... Photos

Jubilee celebrations of Hazrat Mowlana Sultan Mohammed Shah

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As early as in January 1943, the Aga Khan Legion had 40,000 members on its roll and had collected 20 lakh (one lakh = 100,000) rupees to purchase diamonds. On March 10, 1946, the remarkable ceremony was performed in Bombay. The Imam is said to have weighed 243.5 pounds; the value of the diamonds has been given as approximately 2 million dollars. The ceremony was repeated in Dar es Salaam in August 1946. Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was weighed against Platinum in Karachi, Pakistan on February 17, 1954.

Sincere Devotion of the Ismailis:

While there was pomp and pageantry in these celebrations, there was much more than just that; there was evidence of the deep affection and sincere devotion of the Ismailis for their Imam. The Imam had filled a unique place in their lives; he had thought and planned for the improvement of their lot; he had used large sums of his own property for their upliftment and betterment. The delight the Ismailis felt at seeing their Spiritual Leader was incomparable. They showed extraordinary devotion and genuine affection towards their revered leader, and displayed wonderful discipline.

The Family:

In 1898, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah married his cousin Shahzadi Begum, the daughter of his uncle Aga Jangi Shah. In 1908, he married Theresa Magliano, an Italian artist, whose works of art had been exhibited in the Royal Academy of several different countries. She had two sons, one of whom, called Mahdi,died as an infant. The second was Prince Aly Khan. Princess Theresa died in 1926. In 1929, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah married Mademoiselle Andree Carron, to whom a son was born at Paris on January 17,1933, who bears the name Prince Sadrud-Din. The Begum Aga Khan took keen interest in her husband's work; she accompanied him on his tours and organized social and welfare activities for Ismaili women. This marriage was later dissolved at their mutual request. In October 1944, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad shah married Mademoiselle Yvette Labrousse of Cannes, who had previously converted to Islam and had taken the Muslim name of Umme-Habiba. The wedding took place in Switzerland.

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Prince Aly Soloman Khan:

Prince Aly S. Khan was born at Turin in Italy on June 13, 1910. Most of his childhood was spent in Europe with his mother. Later years of his life were divided between England and the Continent. He was tutored by Mr. C.W. Waddington, once Principal of the Mayo College in India. He was accomplished in horsemanship, yachting, motoring and aviation.

In May 1936, he married the Honourable Mrs. Noel Guiness. She took keen interest in Islamic literature and in the affairs of the Ismaili community. She had two sons, Prince Karim, the present Imam, and Prince Amyn Muhammad.

Among Ismailis, Prince Aly was known as His Serene Highness Prince Aly Khan. During last years of his life, he toured among the followers of his father and won his way into the hearts of the people. His wife, Princess Tajuddowlah Aly Khan took special interest in the education and general welfare work of the community.

Prince Aly Khan was in active service during the war years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. It pleased Prince Aly Khan very much if his father's followers took an active part in the religious affairs. He once said, "A man without religious education is like a dry tree doomed to destruction."

Prince Karim:

The annual birthday celebration of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah was a joint celebration of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah's and Prince Aly Khan's birthdays. In 1943, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah ordered the joint celebration to include "one grandson, Prince Karim only". Therefore, when Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah passed away from this world on July 11, 1957, he was succeeded to the Imamat by his grandson, Prince Karim, the present Imam.


Hazar Imam's family

Masnadnashini, Karachi, 1958

Graduation from Harvard,1959

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49th Imam - (1957 A.D. )


As is the Time, So is the Guidance:

The ascension to the throne of Imamat by our beloved Imam-e-Zaman, Noor Mowlana Shah Karim al-Husayni as the 49th Imam, coincided with the beginning of what is now known as the Atomic Age. The previous Imam, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah's period of 72 years of glorious Imamat was the longest of all the Imams. During this period, under his guidance, the whole world witnessed the growth, the strengthening and the development of the Ismaili community, which had never before acquired such an importance in the modern history.

July 11, 1957 is the Day when the present Imam assumed the reigns of the Imamat at the age of 21 years. Two days later, his father, Prince Aly Khan, introducing his son as the Imam of the Time, said, "I am very pleased and consider that my father's choice is a happy one for the future of the Ismaili people." When Mowlana Shah Karim met his followers for the first time as the Imam, he said, "My grandfather dedicated his life to the Imamat and Islam, both of which for him always came first, and above all other considerations."

Repeating the passage from the Will of the previous Imam, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah: "Ever since the time of my ancestor Aly, the first Imam, that is to say over a period of some 1,300 years, it has always been the tradition that each Imam chooses his successor at his absolute and unfettered discretion from among sons or remoter male issue, and in these circumstances and in view of the fundamentally altered conditions in the world in very recent years due to the great changes which have taken place including the discoveries of Atomic Science, I am convinced that it is in the interest of the Shia Muslim Ismaili community that I should be succeeded by a young man who has been brought up and developed during the recent years and in the midst of the new age and who brings a new outlook on life to his office as Imam." Mowlana Shah Karim

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said, "In the last month that I have spent with -ny grandfather, and in our many other times together, I have been privileged to work with him, and his guidance and wisdom will be of great help to me. My air-n in the future will be to continue the vast work of my grandfather, to do all in -ny power for the welfare and betterment of our community and its economic and financial institutions Maternity Homes, Boys' and Girls' Schools, Hospitals, Trusts, Clubs and European and American Scholarships." He further said, "I will do everything possible for your worldly and spiritual upliftment. As you were in i-ny beloved grandfather's heart and thoughts, you will be in mine." Soon after his succession, the Queen of England conferred the title of "His Highness" upon the Imam.

Early Life:

His Highness Shah Karim Aga Khan, the eldest son of His Serene Highness Prince Aly Khan, was born on December 13, 1936 in geneva. His mother's name is Princess Tajud-dowlah. She is the daughter of Late Lord Churston and the Duchess of Leicester, the descendant of King Edward the III of England. Thus, in his veins runs the blue blood of the Arabian Prophet whose direct descendant he is, of the Egyptian and Persian Royalties who were his ancestors, and of the Italian and English Peerage, from the father's and mother's sides, respectively.

The auspicious news of his birth thrilled the entire Ismaili world. The early days of his infancy were spent in Europe under the care of his devoted parents and the personal supervision of his grandfather, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah. Even as a child, he was very fond of wearing Arab dress. During the second world war in 1941, when his revered grandfather was in Switzerland and his devoted father had offered his services to the Allies , Shah Karim and his brother Prince Amyn Muhammad accompanied their mother to Nairobi, the Capital City of Kenya where they

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they lived for four years. Mowlana Shah Karim's noble qualities of self reliance, as well as his sportsmanship, tenderness of heart, preservance, studiousness, and above all, his spontaneous love for religion were prominent even during his childhood. He was very fond of carpentry, gardening, cycling, riding, swimming and tennis. Our beloved Hazer Imam believes in "A sound mind in a sound body". Skiing has been his favourite sport ever since he was a child He started skiing when he was hardly two years old. During his school days in Switzerland, he excelled at this sport and became the Juniors Champion in Europe.

At the tender age of seven, Mowlana Shah Karim conducted the ldd-ul-Fitr prayer (Namaz) amidst a large congregation of Ismailis in the Jamat Khana at Nairobi. After the prayers were over, he shook hands with each and every Ismaili young and old for hours together with ldd Mubarak. On being asked if he was tired, he charmingly said." I am not at all tired. I am indeed very glad to greet and meet the whole Jamat and young children on this auspicious day of Idd.' Memories of this Idd Day are still cherished with pride by the Ismailis of Nairobi. During his stay in Nairobi, Shah Karim paid frequent visits to jamatkhanas and mixed freely with the members of the community.

Once when it was mentioned to Shah Karim that everyone, young and old, men, women and children were all immensely pleased to see him when he visited the Jamat, Shah Karim said, "Jamat is happy on seeing us, gives vent to Salwats and expresses pleasure by clapping, because we are the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (may peace of God be on him)".

When the Second World War ended, Shah Karim went back to Europe, where he joined the Le Rosey School in Switzerland. There he became a great friend of Duke of Kent, the Queen's cousin, whom he used to call "Eddie". Besides the prescribed education at school, he was tutored at home in Arabic, Islamic History and Urdu by Mustapha Kamil, who was specially sent for by Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah from the Muslim Aligarh University of the then India. From the very childhood, Shah Karim was the apple of his grandfather's eye. Once Shah Karim's mother had remarked, "My Karim can have his problems solved by his grandfather as easily as one can have one's own problems and mysteries of pleasures and mistakes solved through one's own equal.

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He is equally determined for the attainment of wisdom and sympathy. On account of the link of limitless friendship, he will be able to equip himself with virtues, and due to that, he will be free from the thoughtless and suppressive disciplinary remedies. It is not easy for a grandson to have the advantage of friendship and paternal love at such a close range from a grandfather. For this, magnanimity of heart and mind is essential, but it is joined with that link which is unbreakable, for, there it is surrounded by confidence, faith, love and tolerance."

At Harvard University:

After graduating from Le Rosey School, situated halfway between Geneva and Laussane, Shah Karim, with his brother Amyn, went to the Harvard University. At the university, because of his loveable personality, modesty and intelligence, he endeared himself to all the teachers as well as to his fellow students. He lived at Harvard's Leverett House, overlooking the Charles River. Richard Gill, a senior tutor at the house, said of him that Shah Karim was very nice and one of the top all-round men. Professor Richard N. Frye, who occupies the Agakhan Chair in Iranian studies, the gift of Shah Karim's grandfather, said, "The young scion is intelligent, serious and charming". During his stay at Harvard University, Shah Karim was a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and of the Islamic Association. He was on the Freshman Soccer Team and for the last two years of his stay there, played hockey with Leverett House in Intramural Competition. He often used to ski at Stowe, Vermont. On clear days, he was frequently seen rowing on the Charles River. College associates said, "He was a quiet fellow and did not own a car. In his 3 years at Harvard, he had seldom come to public attention."

In his freshman year, his room-mate was John Fell Stevenson, son of the Democratic Presidential nominee, A.E. Stevenson. Shah Karim has been a house guest at the Stevenson home in Libertyville. The New York Times, in its issue of July 13, 1957, said, "He is a "Straight All student. His name appears regularly on the Dean's list - an index of high scholastic achievement. He speaks English and French with about equal facility, although he admits to occasional difficulty with American slang. For several years, he showed interest in Russia, her language, customs and government."

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One of his associates described him as a young man of gentle dignity, whose bearing bespoke great refinement.

Mowlana Shah Karim is officially listed on the University roster as Karim Khan. Scholastically, he was in group 1. He was working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree, specializing in Middle East History. At the Harvard University, Mowlana Shah Karim had the opportunity to mix with the world renowned professors of Islamic History like Professor H.A.R. Gib. There he wrote several papers. Besides his papers on Islamic Sects and "Mysticism", his papers on "Rise of the Nizaris" and "The Beginning of Da'wa in Indo-Pakistan" were greatly appreciated by the Professors, as they contained material from original sources. He had not finished his paper on "Free Will and Pre-destination in Islam", when he had to leave the University.

Mowlana Shah Karim spent his school holidays and University vacations alternately with his mother at London, England and with his father at his (Prince Aly Khan's) Riviera Villa, Chateau de L'Horizon. Shah Karim is well known on the Riviera, particularly as a yachtsman. He and his younger brother Amyn had had a narrow escape at Saint Ropez when an accident occurred on board his yacht. He was also a frequent visitor at his grandfather's residence, Villa Yakymour, during his holidays. In 1954, in accordance with the wishes of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah, Shah Karim paid a visit to Pakistan, India and Africa. He instructed the Jamats to impart proper education to their children and to look after their health. In 1956, he visited Madagascar.

First Visit to the Followers:

Shortly after assuming the reigns of Imamat, Mowlana Shah Karim started on whirlwind tour of his Ismaili communities. Before proceeding to Karachi, the birthplace of his grandfather, in August 1957, Imam-e-Zaman visited the Ismaili centres at London and Paris. These visits were marked by memorable scenes of devotion to the Spiritual Father.

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While the Imam was on his way to Karachi, his plane made a brief stop-over at the Beirut airport in the early hours of Sunday morning, August 4, 1957. The Lebanese Government and the Ismailis of Syria and Lebanon accorded Hazer Imam a rousing reception. The Lebanese Government, who had come to know of the visit through Mr. Hasan El Fyi and the Ismailis of Syria and Lebanon, gave the Imam a Royal Welcome usually extended only to the Heads of States. Mr. Izzat Khorchid was appointed to receive Hazer Imam on behalf of the Government. Senator Abdullah Al-Haj made a speech of welcome. Over 600 Ismailis of Syria and Lebanon, including Mr. Ahmed Mirza, agent to the Imam, Mr. Hasan El Fyl, Mr. Amir Mustapha Mirza, the ex-Minister of Syria, and other prominent Ismaili leaders assembled at the airport to extend their Imam the most affectionate welcome to their country.

Later, Mr. Hasan El Fyl specially sent his son, Mr. Abdul Hamid Fyl to Bombay to request Hazer Imam to pay a longer visit to the capitals of Syria and Lebanon next time.

At Karachi, Mowlana Hazer Imam said, "You all know that my grandfather was one of the founders of Pakistan. He, his associates and his co-workers, struggled mightily for the establishment of this country. He always had the profoundest faith in the destiny of Pakistan. Those views and faith are mine. This country is in my heart, for as you know, my beloved grandfather was born here."

After a short stay at Karachi, and a brief tour of East Pakistan and Bombay, Mowlana Hazer Imam went to Africa to meet the Jamats there. At the Aden airport, in the course of an interview with the press, Hazer Imam said, "Muslims in Pakistan are progressing very well. Refugee problem is becoming colossal. Karachi, which had a population of two lakhs, has now more than 20 lakhs inhabitants. It is not easy to provide for them all." (One lakh = 100,000).

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Like his grandfather, Mowlana Hazer Imam has attached great importance to the care of children, their health and their education.

"The Mombasa Times" of East Africa in its issue of November 19, 1957, mentioned an interesting episode. It said, "At least one ear was critically cocked during the variety show given by the pupils of the Agakhan Boys', Girls', and Nursery Schools in the assembly hall off Prince Charles Street on Saturday evening. The ear belonged to the guest of honour, the Agakhan, Spiritual Leader of the Ismailis. He was listening to the greetings from the children recited in several different languages. The youthful Imam is said to speak 10 different languages including Russian. He smiled appreciatively at the school boy French, pursed his lips when it came to the Arabic, grinned at the English and laughed out loud when one toddler blasted forth with "Jambo Bwana Mkubwa".


Over the years Mowlana Hazar Imam has became a well known personality in the world of international philanthropic activates. His knowledge and judgement on investment and aid to the Third World Countries are regarded very highly by world Statesmen and such international agencies as CIDA, agencies of the United Nations etc.

In 1969, Hazer Imam married begum Salimah, the former Sarah Croker-Poole of English birth brought up in India. They have three children, Princess Zahra born on September 18, 1970, Prince Rahim born on October 12, 1971 and Prince Husayn born on April 10, 1974.

In 1982/83 Jamats throughout the world celebrated Mowlana Hazar lmam's Silver Jubilee, and were graced with his Holy visit.

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Since Hazar Imam assumed the office of Imamat in 1957, there have been fundamental political and economic changes in most of the 25 countries where Ismailis are found, mostly in the developing nations of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast have become independent while India and Pakistan have lived through two wars. It is a tribute to Mowlana Hazar Imam's diplomacy that He retains friendly relations with succeeding heads of state.

Although, now only 46, Mowlana Hazar Imam can look back at some major achievements as Imam of the time. He has adapted the complex system of administering the various Ismaili communities pioneered by His grandfather under the old colonial empires to a world of nation states. To make the most of scarce resources, Hazar Imam has introduced modern management techniques into the organization of health, education and the housing programmes as well as economic development activities.

The Aga Khan Foundation owns for example three hospitals in Kenya, has 72 health care centres in Pakistan, is building a 721-bed teaching hospital in Karachi and has funded low cost housing projects and a series of village schools in India. Of all the social institutions, the Foundation is taking up dimensions of extraordinary size as it has now become a collaborating agency of the United Nations with a delivery system that has already been proven in several countries including Kenya, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, U.K. and Canada.

The Foundation Head office in Geneva was established in 1967 as Charitable Trust for the Noorani Family with the primary objective of promoting development and social welfare through philanthropic activities in the developing world to improve the livelihood of all people,

In Canada, the Foundation was established in July 1980 and is recognized by Revenue Canada as well as CIDA and given the 'Charitable Status' and can therefore, officially collect funds and offer donations.

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Within a year of its operation in Canada, it has given the permission to collect 5 million dollars most of which will be channelled towards the building of Burnaby Jamat Khana, the Hospital in Karachi and the Institute of Ismaili studies in London.

In addition, it provides each year a growing number of scholarships to students in developing countries to continue their education in Europe and North America. Foundation programmes are open not only to Ismailis but to all races and religions. For the academic year 1982, Aga Khan Foundation Canada has approved scholarships to 19 students in far ranging subjects and universities apart from some 50 other studying under the Geneva Scholarship program.

What are its aspirations? To be known world-over as a charitable foundation most committed to the upliftment of primary health care and betterment of standard of living in poor countries. There is no question that the way things are going, our community will some day be considered a community notable not just for its successful commercial base, prospering industrial and tourism ventures but also for its Primary Health Care Activities, and this is where the Imam is counting on us.

The Industrial Promotion Services group of companies was set up in 1962 and now operates in Kenya, Tanzania, the Ivory Coast, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Its aim is to create economic development and consequently employment by putting modern management and technology together with local know-how into a suitable investment package. It includes IBIC - Ismailia Business Information Centre and the now successful program over 6 years the Small Business Assistance Program. Basically, controlled from Aiglemont by a Committee under Hazer Imam's guidance, the I.P.S. concept combines private investors both foreign and local with government and international bodies. Over one hundred enterprises have been launched in this way and range from building materials and textiles to mining and tourism.

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The Tourist Promotion Services operates basically in Kenya, Tanzania and Pakistan harnessing international funding - world bank, corporations such as Lufthansa, Pan Am etc. and local governments. The I.P.S. is now looking into Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey - Hunza, Gilgit and Chitral may become vast areas of tourist activities. Sardinia, which is now world famous has earned Mowlana Hazar Imam the title of the KNIGHT of GRAND CROSS from the government of Italy. Prince Amyn Muhammad is in charge of the T.P.S. and its activities are also directed from the Head Office in Aiglemont.

The Diamond Jubilee Investment Trust (D.J.I.T.) successfully operates mortgage and term financing through savings deposits as well as ownership of commercial real estate in Kenya and Tanzania. It reports to a local Board of Directors who then report to Mowlana Hazar Imam.

The Jubilee Insurance Co. which has been set up since the time of Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah's Golden Jubilee in 1939, is the oldest insurance company in East Africa and has recently felt a renewed resurgence of activities. Like D.J.I.T., it reports to Hazar Imam through a Board of Directors and it also operates in Pakistan.

It is through Hazar Imam's continuous emphasis on the importance of systematic planning, systematic implementation and systematic review that the Jamat has been able to move forward. Hazar Imam's other projections include the Ismaili Centre in London, Nation Newspapers, Alisarda Airlines, Cerasarda- a ceramic factory in Sardinia etc. Hazar Imam's future projections may include a credit union, possibly an Ismaili Bank, Manpower Data Bank and central computer to coordinate forecast plans of all Business as well as Social institutions.

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In recognition of the objectives and high standards of the Aga Khan Hospital and Medical College, presently under construction in Karachi, the Government of Pakistan granted the Medical College and the School of Nursing a "University Status" in 1981. It is now known as the Aga Khan University. The only private university in the subcontinent, its primary objective is to respond effectively to the perceived need for medical manpower in Pakistan, and aims to set a standard of excellence worthy of emulation in the region.

Initially, the University will consist of a Medical College which will graduate 100 doctors each year beginning 1983, and a School of Nursing which began classes in October 1980 and will train 110 nurses annually. Attached to it will be a 721-bed teaching Hospital which will begin admitting patients in 1984. Departing from traditional concepts of medical education, the curriculum is specifically designed to prepare future health professionals to work effectively with other health workers at the community level.

The Aga Khan University will be the first international university in a Third World country. Besides having a faculty of health sciences in Karachi, it will have additional faculties in other countries of the developing world as well as in the West. New faculties will be added later relating primarily to the development of human resources in the Third World countries, with an emphasis on rural development and the management of social welfare institutions.

To assist in its development goals, the Aga Khan University is collaborating with distinguished universities such as Harvard in the United States, and McGill and McMaster in Canada, as well as the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Pakistan.

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Aga Khan University has taken the magnitude of the largest projects undertaken by Imamat since the time of the Fatimid Caliphate. A Quote from Mowlana Hazer lmam's telex depicts this appropriately:

"The granting of University status to the Aga Khan Medical College is an event of international importance for the Jamat and for generations and generations to come. In fact, I can think of no single event in our recent history which holds so much potential for so many members of the Jamat".

According to a recent interview of Mowlana Hazer Imam with the Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE) "There is an important development programme being worked out for the Aga Khan University to establish more faculties in Pakistan and other parts of the world in due course so that Pakistan has a major international University working for the good of the Country, the good of the Islamic World and the good of the Third World in general."

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture established in 1978 will give five prizes of $100,000 every three years for outstanding architectural achievements in the Muslim world. Architecture was the greatest of Islamic art forms, but today, it is strongly subject to foreign influence. The object of award in Hazar lmam's words is "to provide an environment which future generations of Muslims will recognize as their own".

Mowlana Hazer Imam made His first visit to China during October 1980 to attend the four-day Aga Khan Architectural Award Seminar held in Beijing in Peking. After the completion of the four day's proceedings, Mowlana Hazer Imam and participants travelled to Western China for a seven-day tour of Xian, Urumga, Turfan and Kashgar. The Beijing seminar is the sixth sponsored by the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in the past four years. Other seminars were held in Istanbul, Fez. Jakarta, Paris and Amman. Each were concerned with the challenges facing urban and rural environments in the developing world.

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Mowlana Hazar Imam's personal position is unique in the world today. He is the spiritual and religious leader of a community which, while concentrated in the developing countries, is now present in the West. He is also concerned with the Islamic tradition, to guide the material well-being of His spiritual children and in this sense, directs an increasing number of philanthrophic and development organizations. it is however, Mowlana Hazer Imam's declared policy and love for His people that these activities should specifically contribute to the progress of many nations where the Ismailis live.

In His message Mowlana Hazar Imam called for greater effort to be directed towards improving the quality of life in the developing areas of the world:

"On this occasion of my Silver Jubilee, I would be deeply happy if the members of my Jamat, wherever they are and whatever their age, would reaffirm in a visible and united manner their commitment to the principles of Islam which bind all Muslims together, and which are an unique example to all mankind: Belief in Allah, the fulfilment of His Message to Man, respect and support for His greatest creation, Man himself. In this way let us establish even sounder foundations for a good and proper life and let us extend our support to those living in the developing areas of the world.

It is my hope that in the coming year members of my Jamat will substantially contribute to replacing walls with bridges and to a more peaceful and better life for mankind."

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Throughout the Fatimid Period and in Alamut, the Ismaili Imams had been the rulers of a state as well as the head of a religious community. After the fall of Alamut, the situation was confused, but again, in the first half of the l8th Century, we find Mowlana Abul Hasan Ali as Governor, ruling Kirman for the Zend kings. The First Aga Khan, Mowlana Shah Hasan Ali, married the daughter of the Persian Shah. His son, the 47th Imam, Shah Aly Shah and his grandson, Mowlana Sultan Muhammad Shah and his great grandson, the present Imam not only have royal ' blood from that union, but through their lineage, claim Royal descent from the Fatimid Caliphs, and as Imams the same lineage traces back to Hazrat Ali, son in-law of Holy Prophet Muhammad.

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The Heritage Society Presents... Back to Heritage F.I.E.L.D














1. IPS Dare-es-salaam

2. The Institute of ismaili Studies, London.

3. Jami' - ul - Hakim, Cairo.

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